What Is A Reasonable Prospect of Conviction?

July 16, 2014

In the case of Proulx v. Québec [2001], the Supreme Court of Canada discussed the concept of a reasonable prospect of conviction and said the following:

“To say that a prosecutor must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of an accused person's guilt before bringing charges is obviously incorrect. That is the ultimate question for the trier of fact, and not the prosecutor, to decide. However, in our opinion, the Crown must have sufficient evidence to believe that guilt could properly be proved beyond a reasonable doubt before reasonable and probable cause exists, and criminal proceedings can be initiated. A lower threshold for initiating prosecutions would be incompatible with the prosecutor's role as a public officer charged with ensuring justice is respected and pursued.”

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Today the Crown Attorney’s office withdrew drinking and driving charges against Toronto Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas, citing “no reasonable prospect of conviction.” The withdrawal of the charges at the request of the Crown Attorney’s Office is an acknowledgement that the Crown’s Office did not have sufficient evidence to believe that guilt could properly be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Valanciunas was arrested in April in Wasaga Beach, Ont., and charged with having more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The Ontario Provincial Police made the arrest following a report that a vehicle went through a drive-thru with open beer bottles visible. Reports indicate that Police say officers located the vehicle at a home, where they arrested Valanciunas, alleging he was under the influence of alcohol while driving. Perhaps it was the lack of evidence between the time of driving and the time of aarrest that led the Crown’s Office to conclude they did not have sufficient evidence for a reasonable prospect of conviction.

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