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

  • Police: Attacker kills 1 woman with axe, injures 2nd in NYC

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Police say a woman was hacked to death and a second woman is being treated for stab wounds after a killer who may have used an axe attacked them inside a Brooklyn apartment. Source
  • 'Nothing for the needy': Notre-Dame not France's only problem, say protesters

    World News CBC News
    French yellow vest protesters set fires along a march route through Paris on Saturday to drive home a message to a government they see as out of touch with the problems of the poor — rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn't the only problem France needs to solve. Source
  • Up to 40 party-goers injured after back deck collapses during wedding bash in B.C.

    Canada News CTV News
    Dozens of party-goers were injured after a second-storey back deck abruptly collapsed during a wedding bash in Langley, B.C. Emergency crews were called to a home on 268th Street shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening. Source
  • Attackers raid family party, kill 13 in Mexico

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- Police in eastern Mexico say gunmen broke into a family party and opened fire, killing 13 people and wounding at least four others. The Veracruz state Public Security Department says seven men, five women and a child were killed in the Friday night attack at an events hall in the oil city of Minatitlan near the Gulf of Mexico. Source
  • One dead after flood waters in Quebec sweep away road

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- One person has died amid flooding in western Quebec, after rising river levels swept away part of a road in the Outaouais region overnight. Police confirmed the death in a tweet Saturday morning, posting a photo of a gaping hole along the road in the Municipality of Pontiac, about 30 km northwest of Ottawa. Source
  • Egypt votes on referendum extending el-Sissi's rule to 2030

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO -- Egyptians voted Saturday on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030 and broaden the military's role -- changes blasted by critics as another major step toward authoritarian rule. Source
  • Tourists, Easter worshippers lament closure of Notre Dame

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- Tourists, devout Catholics and others are looking on mournfully at Notre Dame Cathedral, regretting that they can't get inside the magnificent monument on this Easter weekend because of the damage caused by a violent fire. Source
  • Yellow vest anger mixes with Notre Dame mourning: Paris

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- French yellow vest protesters marched anew Saturday to remind the government that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn't the only problem the nation needs to solve. Security was extra-high in Paris as authorities braced for resurgent yellow vest anger, and Paris police said some 70 people were detained by mid-morning. Source
  • Yellow vest anger burns in France, fueled by Notre Dame fire

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- French yellow vest protesters set fires along a march route through Paris on Saturday to drive home their message to a government they see as out of touch with the problems of the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn't the only problem France needs to solve. Source
  • P.E.I Green Party candidate killed in accident days before election

    Canada News CTV News
    Prince Edward Island Green Party candidate Josh Underhay and his young son have been killed in a "tragic accident," according to a statement issued late Friday night by Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker. The statement does not provide any information about the accident, but asks that the privacy of Underhay's family be respected at this time. Source