This article presents the principal results of a study on plea bargaining at the Montreal Justice Hall. Various methods were adopted: observations, a thorough study of the files, interviews and analyses of the judicial statistics. The results show that negotiations vary considerably depending on the gravity of the offence concerned. In the case of a minor charge or a murder charge, the characteristics as well as the stakes and consequences of the plea bargaining are very different. In minor cases, the negotiations are reduced to their simplest form. They are a routine process of cooperation between the parties rather than bargaining to get an admission of guilt by promising the accused a reduced charge or sentence. On the contrary, the negotiations in murder cases take the traditional form of plea bargaining in which the power struggle is dominant. The study shows that it is in cases of murder than plea bargaining presents most difficulties.
Based on the results of an empirical study on the judicial treatment of cases of assault and battery at the Municipal Court of Montreal, this article focuses on one particular aspect of this treatment, the classification of certain acts as infractions. Its object is to describe and analyze the socio-political and juridic factors that can influence the decisions made by the police and prosecutors when pronouncing the charges. By comparing these charges with the legal and extra-legal variables, we see a difference in the classification of similar cases depending on the family or social context. This supposes some difficulty in defining the criminal gravity of acts committed in conflicts involving parties bound by other bonds as well as their case before the court.
To date, no one really knows exactly how cases go through the maze of legal proceedings after being filed. Based on a sampling ofl 795 requests to undertake legal proceedings presented by the Montreal Urban Community Police Service to "la Cour du Québec, chambre criminelle et pénale" (Quebec Criminal Court) and dealt with by this tribunal in 1989, the authors take a close look at how the intervention of the police (usual access to the judiciary system) and the intervention of the tribunal (decision making element of prime importance) are linked. Greater importance is given to three particular aspects of this matter. First, the authors consider how the police and the tribunal formulate the accusation. This allows them to throw a new light on the problem of over charging. Secondly, the authors reflect on the equally questionable issue of temporary custody at both the police and the tribunal levels. Finally, the authors conclude by examining the processing of cases at the tribunal level.
This review of recent developments in the field of sentencing in Canada begins by observing that none of the recommendations of the Canadian Sentencing Commission were implemented, since the commission issued its report in 1987. This amounts to a prolongation of the status quo. We propose elements of explanation as to why there was no follow up to the Commission's proposals. Second, we present a critical analysis of the latest consultation package on sentencing and parole, that was put together by the federal Department of Justice in 1990. We argue that the proposed statement of purposes and principles of sentencing should priorize the different sentencing goals that it enumerates. We also point out that there is an unbalance between the sentencing and parole components of the permanent commission proposed by the Department of Justice. The sentencing component is required to make sentencing policy, whereas the parole component acts as an advisor to the National Parole Board.