A Guide to Calgary's Criminal Court System

A Guide to Calgary’s Criminal Court System

Facing criminal charges in Calgary can be overwhelming, but understanding the legal process can make it more manageable. From the initial police investigation to the final sentencing, each step in the criminal court system is pivotal. Let's break down the process to help you navigate through Calgary's legal landscape.

Investigation by the Police

The journey begins with law enforcement conducting an investigation, which includes gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses. Strict protocols ensure evidence is collected legally, setting the foundation for a fair trial.


If the police believe there's enough evidence, they may arrest you. Sometimes, they may contact you for an interview simultaneously. If contacted, it's crucial to consult a criminal lawyer before attending the police station. An arrest marks the official point when you're taken into custody and informed of the charges against you.

Bail Hearing

After an arrest, you may be held in custody pending a bail hearing. However, in some cases, the police may release you with conditions outlined in an "Undertaking." If a bail hearing is needed, it typically occurs within 24 hours, allowing a Justice of the Peace or a Judge to decide if you can be released before trial.

First Court Appearance

Your first court appearance follows the bail decision. Here, you're informed of the charges, advised of your language rights, and may choose to have charges read or waived. This initial court appearance is often adjourned to allow time for obtaining legal representation and case disclosure.


The disclosure process involves the prosecution sharing all evidence with the defence. This step enables the defence to review the case's evidence and prepare an effective legal strategy.


At a subsequent court appearance, you enter a plea: guilty, not guilty, or, in some cases, diversion to Alternative Measures, Drug Treatment Court, or Mental Health Diversion. The plea sets the stage for the next phase of the process.


If you plead not guilty, a trial is scheduled, providing an opportunity for the prosecution and defence to present their cases. Witnesses testify, evidence is presented, and legal arguments are made to determine guilt or innocence.

Guilty Plea

Opting for a guilty plea bypasses the trial. Instead, a sentencing hearing is scheduled. Before entering a guilty plea, there may be an "Early Case Resolution" where the defence and prosecution negotiate a plea bargain.


The sentencing phase determines consequences, such as fines, probation, community service, or incarceration, based on the charges' nature and severity. Reports and lawyer submissions often assist the judge in determining an appropriate sentence.


Navigating Calgary's criminal court system involves a series of well-defined steps. Having an experienced criminal lawyer can significantly impact the outcome. Understanding each stage is crucial, empowering individuals to make informed decisions and work with legal professionals for the best possible resolution in their case.

Safeguarding Your Rights: The Crucial Role of Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyers

Criminal lawyers play a pivotal role in ensuring the scales of justice are balanced. They defend clients' rights and ensure that criminal law proceedings are fair and just. However, navigating the legal system can be tricky – that’s where the right support team can benefit you in the long run. 

Safeguard your rights by contacting Muenz Criminal Law. Our team possesses over 30 years of experience in the criminal law system. We ensure your rights are protected every step of the way. We will examine every aspect of your case and create a personalized approach, ensuring the best outcome. 

Call 403-543-6666 or complete our contact form for a free consultation today. Let us help preserve your rights.