Jian Ghomeshi sex-assault charge carries 18-month maximum

TORONTO -- Former radio star Jian Ghomeshi faces maximum penalties that -- if convicted -- would be dramatically different for each offence with which he's now charged.

See Full Article

While the most he could get for the headline-grabbing sexual assault counts against him is 18 months, the obscure choking charge he also faces carries a theoretical life in prison.

The huge gap in potential penalties is, in large part, related to a complex web of decisions and agreements made by both Crown and defence in the run-up to the former "Q" host's trial, which starts Monday.

Canadian law recognizes two broad groups of offences: less serious summary offences and more serious indictable ones. A third group, which includes sexual assault, are called hybrid in that the prosecution can choose to proceed either summarily or by way of indictment depending on the gravity of the allegations.

"The Crown has elected to proceed summarily on the (sexual assault) counts that are before the court," said Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Going the summary route means the prosecution, after looking at exactly what Ghomeshi is alleged to have done, must have been satisfied the sexual assault allegations were not so serious that, if proven against the first-time offender, would warrant punishment more severe than a maximum 18 months.

However, given that the sex charges involve incidents that happened in 2002 and 2003, Ghomeshi's lawyer would have had to agree to the summary proceedings given that charges prosecuted this way must normally be laid within six months of the alleged offence.

On the straight indictable choking charge, Ghomeshi opted for trial in the province's lowest court, the Ontario court of justice.

"Where an accused elects to be tried by a provincial court judge, the accused's trial will be heard and fully completed in the Ontario court of justice," Crawley said.

The lower court route means, as one key consequence, no preliminary inquiry.

For the defence, preliminary hearings are largely an exercise in learning the full extent of the Crown's case. They can also involve hearing witnesses under oath -- a setup for later cross-examination at a trial in Superior Court, which instead will now be the first forum for any appeal arising out of Ghomeshi's prosecution.

If prosecutors think their case is relatively weak, a preliminary may afford an opportunity to patch any holes. No preliminary -- especially in sensitive sexual assault cases -- also means complainants and witnesses need only testify once, a key consideration for the prosecution.

In Ghomeshi's case, his lawyer Marie Henein must have felt confident that the Crown had disclosed enough pertinent material, such as videotaped witness statements and police records, to obviate the need for a preliminary hearing, said veteran criminal lawyer, Clayton Ruby.

"Sometimes, you know what the Crown's case is from the disclosure you're given," Ruby said.

No preliminary inquiry also means a much faster timeline for getting to trial, which can otherwise take several years to take place.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Russian court orders shutdown of opposition figure Navalny's foundation

    World News CBC News
    A Moscow district court has ordered the closure of the foundation crucial to the election campaign of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most formidable foe, had been leading a grass-roots campaign for a year ahead of the 2018 presidential vote, before election officials in December formally barred him from running. Source
  • Kingston, Ont., woman, 42, charged after being found naked in stranger's bathtub

    Canada News CTV News
    KINGSTON, Ont. - Police say a woman is facing charges after she was found lounging naked in a stranger's bathtub in Kingston, Ont. They say that when the complainant arrived home on Sunday evening, she found the nude woman in the unfilled tub. Source
  • Saskatchewan ends ban on Alberta plates at its job sites

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON - The licence plate fight between Saskatchewan and Alberta is over. An Alberta government spokesman says Saskatchewan informed them by letter today it is rescinding its ban on vehicles with Alberta licence plates on Saskatchewan government project sites. Source
  • Any steak specials? RCMP dashcam catches cougar in front of Banff grocery store

    Canada News CTV News
    BANFF, Alta. -- An RCMP officer on a traffic stop in Banff caught more than he expected on his car's dash camera. The video, which shows the constable talking to a motorist, captured a cougar dashing by a couple of metres away -- in front of a grocery store. Source
  • 'Unnecessary risks' to blame for record high snowmobile deaths in Ontario: OPP

    Canada News CTV News
    The winter of 2016-2017 had the highest number of snowmobile-related fatalities in Ontario on record, provincial police say. During the season, Ontario Provincial Police responded to 27 snowmobile deaths, marking a record high in snowmobile-related fatalities since the winter of 2003-2004. Source
  • USA Gymnastics leaders resign amid sex abuse scandal

    World News CBC News
    Three key leaders at USA Gymnastics resigned Monday as more women and girls told a judge about being sexually assaulted at the hands of a sports doctor who spent years with Olympic gymnasts and other female athletes. Source
  • 5 missing after Oklahoma rig explosion, emergency official says

    World News CBC News
    Five people are missing after a fiery explosion ripped through an eastern Oklahoma drilling rig Monday morning, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and leaving a derrick crumpled on the ground, an emergency official said. Source
  • Lawyers slam 'de facto expulsion' of student guilty of sexual interference

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - The Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association is criticizing what it calls the de facto expulsion of a University of Calgary student convicted of a sexual offence. Connor Neurauter pleaded guilty to sexual interference with a minor in Kamloops, B.C. Source
  • LIVE: Funeral held for boy killed in N.S. house fire

    Canada News CTV News
    The funeral for one of the four children who died in a southern Nova Scotia house fire is being held. Mason Grant, 7, died in a house fire in West Pubnico, N.S. on Jan. Source
  • More than 600 at funeral for N.S. boy who died in fire

    Canada News CTV News
    YARMOUTH, N.S. -- The funeral for one of four children killed in a house fire in southern Nova Scotia was held today for a little boy known for his infectious smile and unusual sense of humour. Source