The Charge Screening Form
Typically, the Crown provides an accused with a charge screening form at the accused’s first court appearance.
The form sets out, among other things, how the Crown intends to elect to proceed (summarily or by indictment); whether the case is appropriate for some form of resolution outside the criminal justice system (such as diversion/direct accountability); and, if not, the sentence the Crown will seek upon the accused entering an early guilty plea.
The charge screening form is not the Crown’s election and should not be regarded as such.
R. v. Hynes (2000), 46 W.C.B. (2d) 115 (Ont. C.A.).
The Crown election is made in court and on the record. As a procedural safeguard, the Crown election is recorded on the information.
R. v. Mitchell 1997 CanLII 6321 (ON CA), at para. 4: The Crown election should be made expressly and recorded on the information.
While the charge screening form is some indication of the Crown’s intention, it cannot and should not be regarded as indicative of a binding position in the normal course. Particularly where there is a proviso attached, it is of little assistance.
R. v. Massaroni, 2000 CanLII 22810 (ON SC), at para. 15.
The charge screening form is regarded as speaking to resolution at an early stage of the proceedings. [FN]
R. v. Hechavarria, 1999 CanLII 2334 (ON CA).
[FN] Additionally, Legal Aid offices generally require that an application for a legal aid certificate include a copy of the Crown charge screening form.