Committing a crime is a federal offence. Crime is legislated by Canada’s Criminal Code, which is applied in each of the provinces.

In BC, most criminal offences are heard in the Provincial Court. The Supreme Court hears serious criminal cases such as murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, bank robbery, contempt of court, and major drug cases. These are called indictable offences. If a person is charged with an indictable offence, the case will go to trial.

In most criminal cases, the first court appearance is at a Provincial Court. At this time, the accused does not have to present any evidence. The Crown must prove that there is enough evidence to move the case to a trial. If it is an indictable offence, the case will be heard in Supreme Court.

Supreme Court trials are by a judge and a twelve-person jury, unless the accused and Crown counsel agree to a trial by judge alone. To come to a decision, the court considers the evidence presented in a case, along with statute law, the Rules of Court, regulations and case law. It is very important that judges and masters follow the law as set out in previously decided cases.

The standard of proof for a criminal case is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, which is the required baseline that must be obtained in order to achieve a guilty conviction.



Crime affects many people. The information below provides information and services for victims and witnesses of crime – as well as for those charged with a crime.

How a Criminal Trial Works
For those charged with a crime, this guide describes the arrest to trial process. Topics include: Disclosure, First Appearance, Cross-examination, Your Defense and The Verdict.

Your Voice in Criminal Court
This video educates victims and witnesses about the criminal court process. Produced for adult witnesses in Provincial Court, much of the information applies to appearing in Supreme Court.
Are you a victim of or witness to a crime in British Columbia? This website provides information on Services for Victims, Reporting a Crime, Criminal Charges, Going to Court and Sentencing.
BC’s criminal justice portal provides information and support services for victims of crime, family, youth, jurors, witnesses, the accused, offenders and more.

If You Can't Get a Lawyer for Your Criminal Trial
Booklet for people facing serious or complex criminal charges who have been denied legal aid, but cannot afford a lawyer. Explains why, how, and when to ask the judge to appoint a free lawyer.

LSLAP Manual: Criminal Law
This chapter on criminal law is from the manual used by Law Student’s Legal Assistance Program. It focuses on criminal procedure and case management. It also provides an overview of Charter rights in the criminal context, sentencing, and criminal records.