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LawFacts provides in-depth legal information and resources.



Abandoned search for term

If your refugee claim is declared “abandoned,” you will not be allowed to continue with your claim or make another claim in the future. You will have to go to a special abandonment hearing if you miss the deadline for your BOC form, do not go to your hearing, or do not contact the IRB when you are asked to.

Accused search for term

An accused is a person who has been charged with a criminal offence. They are alleged to have committed a crime, which means that the police feel they have reasons, based on evidence they have gathered, to arrest and lay a charge (or charges). An accused has not been found guilty or plead guilty to the offence(s) they have been charged with.

Adjournment search for term

An adjournment is when a case is delayed until another day. If a case is delayed until another day, it has been ‘adjourned.’ You may also hear that a case was ‘put over’ or ‘held over.’ This also describes adjournments.

Affidavit search for term

A sworn statement of fact that is written down. Affidavits must be administered by an authorized person.

Affirmation search for term

An affirmation is a solemn promise that a person makes to tell the truth in court. It is different from an oath in that it does not involve swearing on a religious text.

Allegation search for term

When someone is charged with an offence, the actions or crimes they are said by the police and the Crown to have done are called allegations. Allegations have not been proven in court. If allegations are later proven or accepted during a guilty plea, they are then called facts.

Appeal search for term

If you are eligible, you can challenge a decision rejecting your claim by having an appeal at the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) of the IRB.

Arrest search for term

An arrest occurs when a person is taken into police custody. If an arrest occurs, the person under arrest is, at least temporarily, not free to leave. Usually the person under arrest is placed in handcuffs. In most cases, the police have to have grounds to charge the person with a criminal offence in order to arrest them. An arrested person has certain legal rights that they must be told about by the police when they are arrested.

Assessment search for term

An assessment (also called a ‘psychiatric assessment’) is a type of interview or examination of an accused, usually conducted by a psychiatrist. An assessment is done to try to find out information about an accused’s mental health. An assessment to find out if an accused is ‘fit to stand trial’ is a common type of assessment.

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Basis of Claim (BOC) form search for term

Every refugee claimant must complete this form that asks for information about you and why you are making a refugee claim.

Board ember search for term

The person who hears your claim at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) and decides whether to accept it.

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Calendar days search for term

Includes Saturdays, Sundays, and days on which offices are closed.

Canadian Border Services Agency search for term

The government agency responsible for security at Canada’s land borders, airports and seaports.

Caring for children search for term

After divorce or separation, parents must agree on a plan to raise their children. This can include putting together a formal parenting plan document, and agreeing on child support issues.

Child access search for term

The level of access (amount of time and type of contact) that you or the other parent has to your child or children.

Child support search for term

The money paid by one parent to another for the financial support of a child or children following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Child support is paid on an ongoing basis, usually monthly.

Child Support Guidelines search for term

These are federal rules that set out how much basic child support a judge should award in a divorce or separation case. The guidelines are law, which means that judges must follow them. Judges may also award child support to go toward Section 7 expenses, also called special or extraordinary expenses (e.g., daycare costs) in addition to any guideline child support ordered.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada search for term

The government agency responsible for immigration and citizenship issues, including refugee matters.

Consent order search for term

An order made by the court based upon the agreement of you and your former spouse or partner.

Contempt of court search for term

A court order made when someone has disrespected the court’s authority or interrupted the court’s normal proceedings.

Convention Refugee search for term

A person who meets the definition in the 1951 UNConvention Relating to the Status of Refugees:

  • you have left your home country
  • you have a well founded fear of persecution based on your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, and
  • you are unable or, because of your fear, unwilling to try to get the protection of your home country.
Court clerk search for term

A court clerk assists the judge or justice of the peace in running the courtroom. They are responsible for most of the administrative work that takes place in the courtroom. There may be one or more clerks in the courtroom. Court clerks are seated below the judge or justice of the peace and will be dressed in a black robe or gown.

Criminal Code search for term

The Criminal Code of Canada is a federal statute that contains most of the criminal offences that a person can be charged with in Canada. It also contains most of the procedures that must be followed in criminal court. A federal statute is codified (formally written down) law that has been passed by the Parliament of Canada.

Crown search for term

Most often in criminal court, the ‘Crown’ is what the government lawyer (e.g., an assistant crown attorney or a federal crown) who is prosecuting an accused is called. The ‘Crown’ can also be used to refer to the ‘state’ or government that represents the public interest in criminal cases.

Custody search for term

A person who is ‘in custody’ is not free to leave. For example, a person who is in jail or a person who has been arrested by the police (even if they have not been taken to a police station or jail yet) is in custody.

Custody search for term

Custody is the right to make important decisions about how to care for and raise a child, for example: the child's school and educational programs, the child's religion, where the child will live, other activities for the child, such as sports, tutoring, and music lessons, the child's legal name, and health care decisions for the child.

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Default Hearing search for term

This hearing occurs when you have fallen behind in your child or spousal support payments. The hearing takes place in court before a judge, and you will have to explain why you are behind in your payments.

Defence search for term

A defence is a legal argument that a lawyer makes to defend an accused person against a charge. For example, if you have been charged with assault for hitting someone, it is possible that your lawyer may argue that you have defence to the charge called “self-defence”.

Designated Country of Origin search for term

A country on Citizenship and Immigration Canada's list of countries that supposedly do not produce as many refugees, and which generally respect human rights. Claims from these countries are fast-tracked, are not eligible for appeal, and face other restrictions.

Designated Foreign National search for term

A person could be given this status if the Minister of Public Safety thinks they arrived in Canada illegally, for example as part of a group smuggled into the country. People with this status are put in immigration detention immediately, and are denied some common human rights. Also called “irregular arrivals.”

Designated Representative search for term

A person who protects the interests of a child under 18 years old. This is usually a parent or legal guardian, but can also be a family member, a legal guardian, a friend or a worker from a social services agency.

Disbursements search for term

Money paid out for expert reports, photocopying, phone calls and other administrative tasks related to your legal case.

Disclosure search for term

Disclosure is a copy of the evidence that the Crown and police have collected to prosecute an accused. It usually contains copies of police officers’ notes, witness statements, photographs and any other relevant documents. It is given to the accused because it is the accused’s constitutional right to know the evidence that will be used against him or her. Disclosure is usually provided to the accused on his or her first appearance date.

Disclosure search for term

(Family law) Making information and documents known and available to a party or parties in a legal proceeding. Disclosure requirements are sometimes placed on parties by law or court rules.

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Eligibility Interview search for term

An officer from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will interview you to decide if you are eligible to make a claim.

If you are eligible, the officer will send your claim to the IRB, where you will have a hearing.

Equalization payment search for term

An equalization payment ensures that the increase in property owned by one spouse at beginning of a marriage is shared with the other person when a couple divorces so that their assets are made more equal. This happens in lieu of division of property in Ontario.

Evidence search for term

Evidence is something that is presented at trials and hearings to try to help a judge, a justice of the peace or a jury make decisions about a case. In a trial, evidence is presented to try to prove (or raise doubt about) what happened at a past event. In a bail hearing, evidence may be presented to show that an accused person is likely to follow bail conditions. Evidence can come in different forms, such as documents, photographs or a witness’ testimony.

Evidence is also used to describe the things gathered by the police during an investigation such as statements, fingerprints and DNA samples.

Exhibit search for term

Exhibits are ‘real’ items, such as a document or an object (e.g., a knife), that are entered as evidence at a trial or a hearing.

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Family (or matrimonial) home search for term

The house where you and your children live. If you are married, you and your former spouse have an equal right to stay in your home unless a judge decides otherwise.

Federal Court search for term

This is where you apply for a judicial review, for example, if your claim was rejected and you are not eligible for an appeal at the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD).

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Gladue search for term

Gladue rights refer to ‘special considerations’ under the Criminal Code that judges must give an Aboriginal person whenever their liberty is at stake, including but not limited to, bail hearings and sentencing.

The term ‘Gladue’ comes from the 1999 Supreme Court ruling (R v. Gladue) that says that courts must consider an Aboriginal offender’s background when they are being sentenced for a crime. Gladue applies to all Aboriginal people who self-identify as First Nations, Métis, or Inuit.

Gross Annual Income search for term

The amount of money earned each year (annually) before taxes or other deductions such as Employment Insurance.

Guardianship search for term

A guardian is a person who is legally responsible for caring for another person (called a ward). This responsibility is known as guardianship. In family law, the ward is usually a child or a minor.

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Hearing search for term

The Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) will hold a hearing for your claim. A Member will review your case and decide whether to accept it.

Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) Application search for term

You can apply if you think there are other reasons for you to stay in Canada, for example, because it is in the best interests of children or for medical reasons.

You cannot make an H&C Application and a refugee claim at the same time.

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Immigration and Refugee Board search for term

This is the public body that decides your refugee claim and appeal. It has two divisions: the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) for refugee hearings and the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) for appeals.

Immigration Consultant search for term

Someone who provides advice or assistance with immigration issues, such as permanent residence applications, temporary residence and visa applications, or refugee claims.

To protect yourself, check that your consultant is on ICCRC’s list of Regulated Consultants. If they are not, they are not allowed to charge a fee for representing you at a hearing.

Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council search for term

This is the group responsible for regulating immigration consultants in Canada and protecting their clients. If someone is not on the list of Regulated Consultants, they are not allowed to charge a fee for representing you at a hearing.

Visit their website for more information: www.iccrc-crcic.ca.

Indictment / Indictable offences search for term

Indictable offences are the more serious charges in the Criminal Code. They carry sentences all the way up to life imprisonment. Dealing with indictable offences can take longer, and can be more complicated than summary conviction offences. A large number of offences allow the Crown to choose to proceed by indictment or by summary conviction. If your case is proceeding by indictment, you should speak to your lawyer about legal options that you may have.

Inland claim search for term

A claim started inside Canada at any office of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Irregular arrival search for term

A person could be given this status if the Minister of Public Safety thinks they arrived in Canada illegally, for example as part of a group smuggled into the country.

People with this status are put in immigration detention immediately, and have access to fewer rights. Sometimes called a Designated Foreign National (DFN).

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Judicial pre-trial search for term

A judicial pre-trial is a meeting held between a judge, the Crown, and an accused person’s lawyer to discuss a case. This meeting is usually in the judge’s private office (called ‘chambers’), but can also be held in a courtroom that is closed to the public. In some courthouses, unrepresented judicial pre-trials are held where duty counsel may assist an accused person during the meeting.

Judicial Review search for term

If you are not eligible for an appeal, you can apply for a judicial review at the Federal Court. The court cannot make a new decision on your claim, but it can overturn a decision and send your claim back to the IRB to be decided again.

Justice of the Peace search for term

A justice of the peace is a judicial officer that ‘presides’ in bail court, first appearance court / set-date court, or provincial offences’ court. To ‘preside’ means to control what goes on in the courtroom and make decisions about what happens with cases. A justice of the peace has similar powers to a judge in the courtroom. A justice of the peace always wears a green sash and should be addressed as ‘Your Worship.’

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Minister’s Participation search for term

The Minister of Public Safety or the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration may decide to become involved in your claim and have a representative at your hearing.

Minutes of Settlement search for term

This document contains all of the points of agreement between you and your former spouse or partner, and must be signed in front of your lawyers. Like a court order, Minutes of Settlement are legally binding so you must follow the points that are included.

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Notice to Appear for a Hearing search for term

An official document from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) that contains the date and location of your hearing.

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Oath search for term

An oath is sworn promise to tell the truth in court. It involves swearing on a religious text such as the Bible or the Qur’an.

Offence search for term

An offence is something that is against the law. The Criminal Code has hundreds of criminal offences listed in it. For example, “theft under $5000” is a criminal offence. It is the offence of stealing something that is worth less than $5000. There are other types of offences that are not criminal offences, such as not wearing your seatbelt or parking in a no-parking zone. An offence is also called a ‘charge.’

Offender search for term

An offender is a person who has plead guilty or been found guilty (after a trial) of an offence. A person charged with a criminal offence changes from being called an ‘accused’ to be calling an ‘offender’ if they plead guilty or are found guilty.

Omission search for term

In criminal law, an omission is not doing something that you are legally required to do. For example, if you are a parent, you are legally obligated to provide things like food and shelter for your minor children. If you’re and parent and you don’t do those things, you could be charged with a criminal offence.

Order search for term

An order, which is also called a ‘court order,’ is something that a judge makes requiring certain actions. There are many different types of orders. For example, a probation order is an order requiring an offender to do or not do certain things for a period of time (such as report to a probation officer). If an order is not followed, there can be legal consequences for the person who failed to follow the order, such a being charged with an offence. An ‘order’ is also used to describe the actual document indicating what the judge ordered to happen.

Order search for term

A direction a court or judge issues that resolves some step or point in legal proceedings. An order is usually made in writing.

Over-representation search for term

There are a higher number of Aboriginal people in jail, compared to their relative percentage of the entire Canadian population. Aboriginal people make up 4 per cent of the adult Canadian population, but “approximately 23 per cent of offenders now serving federal sentences are of First Nations, Métis and Inuit ancestry”(Office of the Correctional Investigator). Similarly, the same trends exist when looking at the rate of Aboriginal youth justice involvement.

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Paralegal search for term

A legal professional who is allowed to represent you at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) and help with your claim. Paralegals have special training and are licensed by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Parenting orders search for term

A type of court order made by a judge that sets out what you must do and not do regarding your child. This covers who has the rights and responsibilities to make decisions for the child, and determines issues such as child access and custody.

Party search for term

(Or parties) The people or person involved in a legal case.

Perfection search for term

The second step for a judicial review at the Federal Court. The first step is the application for judicial review within 15 days of receiving a negative decision, the second is providing supporting documents and legal arguments within 30 days.

Permanent Residence search for term

The right to live in Canada permanently without being a citizen.

Port of Entry (POE) Claim search for term

A claim started when you arrive in Canada, either at an airport, a seaport or a border crossing.

Pre-nuptial agreement search for term

A legal document signed before a marriage or other relationship or union. These agreements often cover division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce or separation.

Pre-Removal Risk Assessment search for term

A procedure for evaluating the amount of danger or risk you would face in your country if you were deported. Not everyone is eligible, for example, those who recently received a negative refugee decision.

Property laws search for term

The laws that govern real property (e.g. land) and personal property.

Prosecute search for term

To prosecute a case means to review the evidence collected by the police and present that evidence in court at bail hearings, trials and other types of criminal courts. Government lawyers who prosecute cases are called ‘prosecutors.’ Assistant crown attorneys and federal crowns are both examples of prosecutors.

Protected Person search for term

A person who would be subjected personally to a danger of torture, a risk to their life, or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if they were returned to their home country.

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Recognizance search for term

A recognizance is a type of bond used in bail court where a person pledges (promises) an amount of money to the court. A recognizance has conditions attached to it that an accused person must follow at the risk of losing some or all of the money promised. Sometimes an accused is released on their ‘own recognizance’ where they alone risks the money promised. In other cases, a recognizance will have one or more sureties who also risk losing money if the accused doesn’t follow one or more of the conditions.

Refugee Appeal Division search for term

The division of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) that decides appeals of decisions made by the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).

Refugee Protection Division search for term

The division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) that hears claims for refugee protection and decides whether to accept them.

Restorative justice search for term

This approach to justice focuses on the voluntary participation of the people involved in the crime—both the victim(s) and the offender(s)—rather than punishment. Restorative justice seeks to provide healing and accountability for those people involved and their community. It can include Victim-Offender Mediation, Restorative Conferencing, and Circle Processes. Read the Correctional Services Canada fact sheet on restorative justice for more information

Retainer search for term

A contract between a lawyer and client that details what legal services will be provided, and the costs of those services.

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Safe third country search for term

The United States is considered a “safe country,” so you might not be allowed to make a claim at the U.S.-Canada border, although there are exceptions.

Secure psychiatric facility / hospital search for term

A secure psychiatric facility is a medical facility, much like a hospital, where accused persons with mental health issues can be assessed and/or receive treatment. They are called ‘secure’ because an accused person is not free to leave the facility during the time that they have been ordered to be there. An accused person is considered to be ‘in custody’ while they are in a secure psychiatric facility.

Seizure notice search for term

An official document that proves that an original document, such as your identity card, is being kept by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) or Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). This often happens while you are making a claim.

Serve search for term

The act of delivering or leaving court documents with the other party.

Settlement search for term

A resolution between parties.

Spousal support search for term

The money paid by a spouse or partner to financially support their former spouse or partner following the end of a marriage or other relationship.

Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines search for term

These guidelines suggest ranges of spousal support in a variety of circumstances. Judges do not have to follow these guidelines because they are not law.

Submission search for term

 Statements and arguments urging the judge or other decision maker to make particular findings of fact and apply the law in the manner proposed by the person making the submission.

Summary conviction search for term

Summary conviction offences are the less-serious charges in the Criminal Code. Dealing with summary conviction offences is also less-complicated and lengthy than dealing with indictable offences. The maximum penalty for most summary conviction offences is six months jail and/or a fine of $5000. A large number of criminal offences allow the Crown to choose to proceed by summary conviction or by indictment.

Surety search for term

A surety is a person who comes to court and promises to a judge or a justice of the peace to supervise an accused while they are out on bail. A surety also pledges or promises an amount of money to the court by signing a type of bond called a “recognizance.” By doing this, the surety risks losing some or all of the money they have promised to the court if the accused doesn’t follow one or more of the bail conditions or fails to show up to court when required.

Synopsis search for term

A synopsis is a written summary of the evidence collected by the police against an accused person. It is usually about three or four paragraphs long, but for serious charges or complicated cases, it can be several pages long. It is located towards the front of the disclosure package. The synopsis is written by the police officer who is in charge of investigating the case (called the ‘OIC’ or “Officer in Charge”).

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Testify search for term

Testifying is a way of presenting evidence to the court using a witness. A witness testifies by answering questions asked by the lawyers and the judge. The answers given are called the witness’ testimony.’ The questions are answered while the witness is under oath or after giving an affirmation.

Trial search for term

In a criminal court, a trial is where the Crown and the accused’s lawyer present evidence and make arguments to a judge to determine if the accused is guilty of a criminal offence. The accused is always innocent until proven guilty, and the Crown has to prove its case ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ Criminal trials can be short, taking only a couple of hours, or very long, taking several months or longer to complete.

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Vested search for term

In property law, this means protected, entitled or established by law.

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Withdraw / Withdrawal search for term

To withdraw a charge or charges means to end the prosecution of a case. Only the Crown can make the decision to withdraw charges. If all an accused’s charge(s) are withdrawn by the Crown, the case is finished, the accused doesn’t have to go to court anymore, and they won’t have a criminal record.

Witness search for term

A witness is a person who gives evidence in court by testifying. A witness can be called by either the Crown or the accused’s lawyer in a trial or a hearing. A witness is first asked questions by the side who called him or her, then by the other side in something called ‘cross-examination.’ The judge or justice of the peace at the trial or hearing can also ask a witness questions.

Working day search for term

Does not include Saturdays, Sundays or other days on which offices are closed.

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