Type of document: Prosecution Directive
Effective date: November 14, 2017

The Criminal Code permits the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General to direct an indictment and send a criminal case directly to trial without a preliminary hearing in the following circumstances:

  1. prior to an accused person making an election to have a preliminary inquiry
  2. a preliminary inquiry has commenced but has not been concluded, or
  3. after an accused has been discharged at a preliminary inquiry.

The Prosecutor should make a request for the consent of the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General to direct an indictment where the interests of justice require that the matter be brought directly to trial.

Generally, full disclosure must be made prior to the Prosecutor’s request for a direct indictment. If full disclosure has not been made prior to the request, the Prosecutor must ensure that disclosure allowing the accused to properly exercise their right to full answer and defence will be made prior to trial.

The Prosecutor must have concluded that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and the continuation of the prosecution is not contrary to the public interest. The Prosecutor must also have the approval of her Crown Attorney and Director before requesting a direct indictment from the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General.

Factors to consider

The factors that the Prosecutor should consider in determining whether to request a direct indictment include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • delays in the trial that could deprive the accused of the right to be tried within a reasonable time
  • the physical or psychological health of victims and witnesses
  • difficulties involved in having victims and witnesses testify more than once including the victimization of vulnerable witnesses
  • preservation of the integrity of evidence including the risk that evidence could be destroyed
  • preservation of the integrity of related ongoing police investigations
  • safety concerns for the victims, witnesses and public
  • the need to avoid multiple proceedings
  • the accused was wrongly discharged following the preliminary inquiry because of errors or new evidence that has been discovered
  • a preliminary inquiry would be unreasonably costly, complex, long or inappropriate because of the nature of the issues or the evidence
  • the need to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice
  • the case is notorious or of particular importance to the public such that the case should be tried as soon as possible
  • there are circumstances that require the case be expedited.

Reference should be made to the Attorney General Consent and Delegation, Charge Screening, Sexual Offences against Adults and Offences against Children Directives.