Most indictable offences, such as break and enter, begin in Provincial Court but the accused can pick whether to have their trial in Provincial Court or Supreme Court. If they choose Supreme Court, they can choose to have their trial in front of a judge, or in front of a judge and a jury. Before the case is moved to Supreme Court, they will have a hearing called a “preliminary inquiry”. These take place in Provincial Court. In a preliminary inquiry, the Crown must show they have enough evidence to take the matter to trial.
There are certain types of indictable offences, which have a special procedure. This includes extremely serious crimes such as murder and terrorism. Their trial will be in Supreme Court and will have a judge and jury trial, unless the Crown and Defence both agree to have a judge alone trial.
In trials with both a judge and jury, they each have a distinct role to play. The jury will decide whether the accused is guilty or not, and the judge will decide what kind of evidence the jury will see. The judge will give the jury instructions on how to consider the evidence they see and hear. If the jury decides the accused is guilty, the judge will decide on what kind of punishment to give.
Most criminal law trial decisions can be automatically appealed to the BC Court of Appeal.