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Tentative Proposals for Compensation of Accused for Acquittal

NCJ Number
Date Published
38 pages
This paper examines protections afforded by law to persons unjustly convicted or accused of a crime and proposes that Saskatchewan, Canada, adopt a compensation scheme to award costs to accused persons in appropriate cases.
Although statutory provisions have been developed that enable courts to award costs to the accused, they are limited in scope or have been interpreted in a manner that has reduced their effectiveness. The report examines how the Criminal Code treats costs for the indictable offense and the summary offense. Also considered are provincial and municipal offenses and remedies established by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Compensation schemes established by the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and New South Wales (Australia) are surveyed. The paper concludes that Canada's current system of costs for the innocent accused is ineffective and argues that the public has indicated a real concern about the issue, as evidenced in the Susan Nelles trial. The compensation scheme proposed relies on a public fund created expressly for that purpose and administration by the provincial government. While all accused persons who are acquitted would be eligible to apply, the court would award compensation only to those drawn into the legal system through no fault of their own. Factors that the court should consider in making this decision and setting the award amount are discussed.