What is a preliminary inquiry?

A is when a judge reviews the in your case to decide if there's enough evidence to have a . A preliminary inquiry is also called a . It takes place at the .

You have a preliminary inquiry only if all of the following are true:

  • you're charged with an or a that the Crown decides to treat as an indictable offence
  • you could be jailed for 14 years or more if you're found guilty
  • you choose to have your trial at the
  • you or the Crown ask for a preliminary inquiry

At the end of your preliminary inquiry, if the judge thinks there's not enough evidence to have a trial, you're and in most cases your case is over. But if the judge thinks there's enough evidence, you have to go to trial. This is called being “committed to stand trial”.

In most cases, you're committed and have to go to trial. This is because at a preliminary inquiry, the Crown doesn't have to prove your guilt . They only need to convince the judge that there's some evidence that they can present in court that can be used to find you guilty.

If more than one person is accused

If more than one person has been accused of the crime, only one has to ask for a preliminary inquiry. All the other must also go to the preliminary inquiry. But the co-accused don't have to go to the preliminary inquiry if the court agrees to hear and decide their cases separately.

If you've been co-accused of a crime, and you want to separate your case, you have to make a severance application. This isn't easy. The court will only separate your case if you can show that:

  • it would be unfair for you to have a single trial with your co-accused, and
  • the public's interest in having a single trial is less important.

Get legal help

Talk to a lawyer or before you decide whether to ask for a preliminary inquiry or to separate your case. You don't need a lawyer to represent you at a preliminary inquiry, but it can be helpful to have one.

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