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What is the Difference Between a Federal Offence and a Provincial Offence?

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is essential to know exactly what consequences you may face and what steps are necessary to defend yourself. The procedures and range of penalties will be different depending on whether you have been charged with a provincial offence or a federal offence. This blog will discuss how to determine whether you have been charged with a federal or provincial offence, some examples of federal and provincial offences, and why the difference matters. If you need more information, contact us today to speak with one of our team of criminal defence lawyers in Grand Prairie.

How do I know if I have been charged with a federal offence or a provincial offence?

To find out if a criminal offence in Canada is provincial or federal, you must look to the legislation that establishes the offence:

  • If you have been charged with a specific offence under federal law, such as the Criminal Code of Canada, it is known as a federal offence. Federal offences are the same across Canada, as they are established by federal laws including the Criminal Code of Canada, the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (for drug-related offences), and The Firearms Act (for firearms offences). If the accused is a youth, the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act may also apply (this does not set out separate offences but will impact the procedure and potential penalties).

  • Provincial offences vary from province to province throughout Canada as they are established by provincial legislation. Examples of such laws in Alberta include the Highway Traffic Act and the Gaming and Liquor Act. If you travel from Grand Prairie to BC, you could be charged with a provincial offence under laws in that province such as the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act. BC laws will differ from Alberta’s law and come with their own procedure and penalties.

It can be challenging to locate and decipher the legislation on your own. It is highly recommended that you contact a criminal defence lawyer (Grand Prairie-based Banks, Gubbins & Andrews offer a free initial consultation) as soon as possible after you are charged with a criminal offence. An experienced criminal defence lawyer can review your case, advise you on potential outcomes, and customize your defence strategy based on the nature of the offence and your personal circumstances.

What is a federal offence?

Examples of federal offences under the Criminal Code include fraud, assault, sexual assault, theft, mischief, driving causing bodily harm, damage to property, and trespassing.

What is a provincial offence?

Examples of provincial offences in Alberta include careless driving, driving while suspended, gaming offences, and liquor offences. Commercial vehicle transport tickets are also provincial offences.

Why does the difference between a federal and a provincial offence matter?

The difference between a federal offence and a provincial offence is significant. Federal offences as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada are more serious charges that carry more serious, life-changing consequences for an accused upon conviction. Provincial offences – while still serious – generally come with more minor penalties. The resolution of a federal offence can in some cases require a full criminal trial. It is also significant to note that a conviction under the Criminal Code of Canada will typically leave you with an official criminal record, while a conviction for a provincial offence will not (though a record of the provincial offence will exist).

Let Us Help You – Banks, Gubbins & Andrews, Criminal Defence Lawyers in Grand Prairie

Obtaining proper legal counsel is imperative and should be done as early as possible, especially if you have been charged with a serious criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Book your free initial consultation with Banks, Gubbins and Andrews today by calling 780-830-0322 if you or a family member has been charged with a criminal offence. At your free initial consultation at our law office in Grand Prairie, criminal defence lawyers of Banks, Gubbins and Andrews will tell you exactly what you can expect to face, depending on whether you have been charged with a provincial offence or a federal offence. We will devise a defence strategy for your particular case that will give you the best possible outcome and we will give you a clear estimate of potential expenses. You can count on us if you need our help with drug offences, bail hearings or domestic violence cases. Our lawyers will assist you in preparing documents for court and guide you through the procedure for court appearances. Contact us to learn more about our services. Phone consultations are possible, and evening and weekend appointments can be made by prior arrangement.

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1 commentaire

Sean Macinnis
Sean Macinnis
27 janv. 2023

Can a building manager open and enter your locked mailbox

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