In Canada, any person charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time. This right comes from section 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which is an essential part of our Constitution. But what does it mean to be tried within a reasonable time?
The Supreme Court of Canada established in R v. Jordan a reasonable time to be tried for Provincial offences, such as those laid under the Highway Traffic Act, to be 18 months. The 18-month period starts from the date the charge was laid to and including the date in which the matter is resolved (R v. Macdougall). For example, if you were pulled over and charged with speeding March 1, 2020, but the matter was not resolved until February 1, 2022, this could be considered a Charter violation.
However, there is an exception to the rule: exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances are defined as, “…those that lie outside the Crown’s control in the sense that they are: (a) reasonably unforeseen or reasonably unavoidable, and (b) such that Crown counsel cannot reasonably remedy the delays emanating from those circumstances once they arise” (R v. Jordan).
In recent case law, the Covid-19 Pandemic has been determined to be an exceptional circumstance (R v. Yaqoobi). In the case of R v. Yaqoobi, it was determined that the pandemic caused delays outside of the Crowns control, delays that they were not able to rectify. Due to this, the pandemic was labelled an exceptional circumstance and any delays caused by the pandemic did not count towards the 18-month period from the charge being laid to the resolution of the matter. In this case, the 11(b)-argument brought forth by Yaqoobi was, therefore, dismissed as the net time to be tried was below 18-months and not a violation of their rights and freedoms.
If you would like to know if your matter qualifies for an 11(b) argument, please reach out to our office for more information. We are here to help!