Are Provincial Offences the Same As Criminal Offences?
Provincial Offences, Such As Municipal Bylaw Charges, Among Others, Are Prosecuted Within the Ontario Court of Justice Using Procedures Prescribed By the Provincial Offences Act. To Your Defence May Be Able to Help You Defend Against These Types of Charges.
Defending Against Provincial Offence Allegations Including Municipal Bylaw Charges
Provincial offences are quasi-crimes or regulatory offences in that they are violation of laws enacted to regulate individual conduct for the protection of society as a whole and they are prosecuted by a Prosecutor as an agent of the state; however, unlike criminal offences, upon conviction of a provincial offence a person avoids establishing a criminal record.
The Provincial Offences Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33, as well as the Rules of the Ontario Court (Provincial Division) in Provincial Offences Proceedings, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 200, provide the procedural law that guides the process by which offences within numerous substantive law statutes are prosecuted. The range in matters falling under the purview of provincial offences is very broad and may involve, among much more, alleged violations of:
- The Building Code Act;
- The Environmental Protection Act;
- The Forestry Act;
- The Health Protection and Promotion Act; and
- The Occupational Health & Safety Act;
In addition to the above, there are many more applicable statutes as well as municipal bylaws that prescribe prosecution as a provincial offence upon an alleged violation.
Accused Person Is Presumed Innocent
Similar to a criminal charge, with charges prosecuted as a provincial offence, the accused person is presumed innocent and the Prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the guilt of the accused person. Accordingly, a primary defence strategy is simply to poke enough holes in the evidence so to create a reasonable doubt.
Identity As Example
Every offence, regardless of the statute allegedly violated, involves essential elements for the charge brought. A very simple example of an essential element is the element of identity whereas, to convict an accused person, the Prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the alleged offence was committed by the accused person. While proof of whodunit is often unarguable, there are case circumstances that do arise where, as an essential element to the charge, the Prosecutor is unable to prove identity.