JustFacts

Preliminary Inquiries

June 2017

Research and Statistics Division

This fact sheet is based on publicly available data from Statistic Canada databases, Canadian government and academic studies and publications released in 2005 and 2017, data from special requests to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics as well as internal research reports prepared by Justice Canada.

Decline in the number of completed casesFootnote 1 in adult criminal court for the fifth consecutive year

There were 328,028 completed adult criminal court cases across Canada in 2014/2015 that involved 992,635 charges. The number of completed adult criminal court cases declined 13% from the previous year and marks the fifth year of consecutive decline.Footnote 2

Number of preliminary inquiries for the most serious offence in the case, Canada, 2005/2006 to 2014/2015 described below

Text version: Number of preliminary inquiries for the most serious offence in the case, Canada, 2005/2006 to 2014/2015

A vertical bar chart illustrates the distribution of the number of preliminary inquiries scheduled and/or held for the most serious offence in the case. The Y axis is measured in numbers inscribed at the top of each bar. The X axis is divided into 10 increments for each year from 2005/2006 to 2014/2015 (left to right, respectively). In 2005/2006, the were 12,471 preliminary inquiries scheduled and/or held for the most serious offence in the case; 11,218 in 2006/2007; 11,192 in 2007/2008; 11,787 in 2008/2009; 11,218 in 2009/2010; 10,094 in 2010/2011; 10,017 in 2011/2012; 10,130 in 2012/2013; 9,677 in 2013/2014; and 7,917 in 2014/2015.

Number of preliminary inquiries for the most serious offence in case have decreased over the last 10 years

In 2014/2015, 7,917 preliminary inquiries were scheduled and/or held for the most serious offence in the case (including both adult and youth cases). Footnote 3,Footnote 4 The number of preliminary inquiries that were scheduled and/or held, for the most serious offence in the case, has decreased by 37% over the last ten years (12,471 preliminary inquiries in 2005/2006).

Preliminary inquiries may impact the time required for case completionFootnote 5

In 2014/2015, the majority (81%; n = 7,432) of adult criminal court cases (provincial and superior court cases) that had at least one charge with a preliminary inquiry that was requested and/or held were completed in less than 30 months. The remaining cases (19%; n = 1,747) took 30 months or longer to complete.

Mixed results regarding the likelihood of a trial following a preliminary inquiry

Research by Justice CanadaFootnote 6  found that holding a preliminary inquiry did not impact the likelihood of a trial taking place while Webster’s researchFootnote 7 found some evidence to indicate that when a preliminary inquiry was held the likelihood of a trial taking place decreased.Footnote 8

2004 Amendments to the Preliminary Inquiry

A Justice Canada studyFootnote 9 found that there was a 20% decrease in the number of preliminary inquiries following the 2004 amendments made by Bill C-15A.Footnote 10

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