Under Canadian law, the constitution grants you the right to a trial by a jury of your peers if you are accused of a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than 5 years. You can also be tried by a jury for an indictable offence, even one punishable by less than 5 years.
The accused generally gets to elect if the trial will proceed by a judge and a jury or by a judge alone. However, for murder, intimidating Parliament, sedition, piracy, inciting to mutiny, treason, and other severe criminal offences, trial by a jury is mandatory unless the prosecution agrees otherwise.
As the accused, you have a right to request the judge to remove one of the jurors you feel will be unfair due to some sort of prejudice. The prosecutor also has the same right. Under section 638(1)(b) of the Criminal Code, the law states that “a party may challenge a juror “for cause”, alleging that the juror may not be indifferent.” This is called Challenge for Cause. Unlike with pre-emptory challenge, a Challenge for Cause is not a right and it is up to the judge to make the ultimate decision.
A challenge can be directed to all potential jurors or to individual jurors. Under Section 638.(1) of the Criminal Code, the accused or the prosecutor is entitled to make a challenge for cause on these grounds:
You can represent yourself in a Canadian trial, but one of the reasons you should hire a lawyer is to challenge for cause.
At Costa Law Firm, we will ensure there is an evidentiary foundation to the challenge for cause claims we put forward. Judges have wide discretion to supervise challenge for claim and they must be really convinced before they rule in your favour.
We will question the juror to establish the claim. This should be done by a professional because the law states that the questioning should be “relevant, succinct and fair” and one should not invade the “privacy of prospective jurors in an attempt to probe personal feelings, opinions, and beliefs.” We ensure our questions are within the bounds of a legitimate inquiry.
Wondering if you can make a challenge for cause? Call us today on 416-535-6329 for a free 20 minutes consultation.