Screening of police charges could help clear crowded courts, study says

Nearly half of all criminal charges in Ontario are withdrawn or tossed out before trial, a higher rate than anywhere else in Canada.

The finding comes in a new report that urges reform of the way charges are laid in the province, with the aim of relieving an overcrowded court system.

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Using data from Statistics Canada, the study finds significantly heavier caseloads in the court systems of provinces such as Ontario — where police lay charges — versus British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick, where Crown attorneys screen charges before they are laid to decide whether there's a reasonable chance of conviction.

"Large numbers of gratuitous charges waste massive amounts of money and time," writes criminologist Christopher Williams in the report.


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