Minimum Age for Criminal Conviction in Canada

Criminal Law Specialist Patrick Ducharme
Criminal Law Specialist Patrick Ducharme

In Canada, the minimum age for a criminal conviction is twelve.

Section 13 of the Criminal Code of Canada (“the Code”) provides that no person shall be convicted of an offence while that person was under the age of 12. Age is measured by chronological age and not according to intellectual capacity.1 Although the Code exempts a child from criminal liability, an adult may still be found to be a party to an offence committed by someone less than 12 years of age.2


1 R. v. Sawchuk, (1991), 66 CCC (3d) 255 [1991] 5 WWR 381 (MBCA)

2 R. v. D. (R.C.), 1991 Carswell Ont 2215

This is a short excerpt from Patrick Ducharme’s book, 2018 Criminal Practice and Procedure, which is scheduled to be printed by April 30, 2018.

The Paper Chase: Subsections 540(7)-(9) of the Criminal Code

By Patrick J Ducharme, delivered to the Judges of the Ontario Court of Justice at their Educational Conference at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, November 4-6 2015.


Subsections 540 (7)-(9) of the Criminal Code became law June 1, 2004. The intention of Parliament in enacting these subsections, according to the Parliamentary Research Branch, was 3-fold:
a. To streamline preliminary inquiries;
b. Reduce the time it takes to bring criminal cases to trial by reducing the  number and duration of preliminary inquiries, and,
c. Minimize the extent to which complainants (particularly those in sexual assault cases, are subject to examination and cross-examination. 2

In the last decade and a bit these amendments have been all but ignored by  Canada’s appellate courts. The few appellate decisions that have considered the amendments have focused on the facts of the case giving rise to the appeal and the limitations of certiorari as a vehicle of challenge for decisions alleged to be jurisdictionally flawed. The extraordinary remedies are aptly named. Any measure of success by their use is indeed extraordinary. Continue reading “The Paper Chase: Subsections 540(7)-(9) of the Criminal Code”

Personal Privacy Obliterated By Canada

Federal Government Is Continuing To Destroy Any Rights of Privacy

(from Patrick Ducharme’s blog at

Patrick Ducharme at a celebrity roast for charity
Patrick Ducharme

Are you worried about your privacy? You should be. The Canadian government intentionally exposes every Canadian to breaches of their privacy. Privacy breaches by the government and others are legislatively encouraged and protected. Access to private information is granted upon request, without a warrant or court order. Information that Canadians believe is entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy is intentionally exposed.

There is really only one area where the Canadian government does, in fact, protect privacy. The prerequisite for privacy in this country will not surprise you. It occurs only if the information to be protected concerns the operation of the government. The more important the information is to protecting the Government’s image, the more ferociously they protect it from disclosure. Conversely, private information about you is routinely breached. Your telephone calls, emails, banking records, and personal interactions are not protected. The federal government has insidiously wiped out any hope of personal privacy.

Continue reading “Personal Privacy Obliterated By Canada”

Safe Streets and Communities Act: the Omnibus Anti-Crime Package

By Patrick Ducharme, for the Annual Conference of the Ontario Criminal Lawyer’s Association.


Criminal Law Specialist Patrick Ducharme
Criminal Law Specialist Patrick Ducharme

In 2011 the Federal government introduced into law its first significant foray into omnibus criminal law with its Get Tough on Crime legislation. This was a series of new crime legislation bearing latitudinous titles such as the Truth in Sentencing Act, or, Standing Up for Victims of White Collar Crime Act. This writer, in a weak moment of sentimental liberalism, described the Get Tough on Crime agenda as having the unclean odour of politics all over it. The agenda played to the public’s irrational fears and did so in the face of an ever-developing and now overwhelming body of literature going to suggest that harsher sentences lead, if anywhere, to the same or more crime, not less. It was further suggested that the agenda was contrary to the accumulated wisdom of our finest judges, who were being told, in unmistakable terms, that they could not be trusted to exercise their discretion reasonably, competently, and compassionately. These legislative amendments appeared to represent the government, like the crayfish, crawling backwards into the future. Continue reading “Safe Streets and Communities Act: the Omnibus Anti-Crime Package”

Understanding Section 8: Search, Seizure and the Canadian Constitution

Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues
March, 2006

Patrick Ducharme

Criminal Law Specialist Patrick Ducharme
Criminal Law Specialist Patrick Ducharme

Since April 17, 1982 when the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was proclaimed Canadian courts have developed certain principles pertaining to the nature of the Section 8 right to be secure against unreasonable search and This book effectively reviews and ultimately crystallizes those principles in a “reader friendly” manner that will prove valuable to any practitioner making or refuting a Section 8 Application.

The authors adopt a problem-solving approach to the issues surrounding searches and seizures. First, they discuss the fundamental principles of a Section 8 claim. After identifying the general principles applicable to all searches, they then address any exceptions to the general rules and the rationale for those exceptions.

Continue reading “Understanding Section 8: Search, Seizure and the Canadian Constitution”