S.S. v. Her Majesty the Queen

(Ontario) (Criminal) (By Leave)

(Publication ban in case) (Publication ban on party)


Criminal law - Preliminary inquiry - Criminal law — Preliminary Inquiry — Maximum penalty for offence — What is the correct interpretation of s. 535 of the Criminal Code? — Did Parliament intend that only an accused who faces jeopardy of 14 years or more of imprisonment is now entitled to a preliminary inquiry? —Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C 46, s. 535.


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The applicant was charged with two offences that each carried a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment at the time they were committed. At issue is the interpretation of s. 535 of the Criminal Code, which was amended to restrict an accused person’s right to a preliminary inquiry to only persons charged with an indictable offence that is punishable by a term of imprisonment of 14 years or more.

On application for directions from the respondent Crown, Edward J. of the Ontario Court of Justice ruled that the applicant was entitled to a preliminary inquiry. Justice Skarica of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice quashed Justice Edward’s ruling, and prohibited the holding of a preliminary inquiry. The Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant’s appeal.