Including Criminal Code, Highway Traffic, Income Tax, and Regulatory Offences

Canadian Legal Terminology

*this article was updated October 4, 2020, and is not legal advice

Legal jargon used in Canada for persons going through the criminal justice system includes the following.


Suspect:
Not charged; only under investigation. They are 'suspected' of committing an offence.

Accused:
Charged with an offence. They have been formally 'accused'.

Defendant:
Another name for the accused; they are 'defending' themself.

Offender:
Once the accused has been found guilty they can now be called an offender. They 'offended' the community.

Perpetrator:
The accused has been found guilty and can now be called a perpetrator. They 'perpetrated' the offence. They can also be called an 'offender' – see above. Some American cop shows call them 'the perp'.

Appellant:
The offender/perpetrator is appealing the judgement. They could be appealing the decision itself which found them to be guilty, or just the sentence they received, or both. In court documents they are no longer called a 'defendant', but rather an 'appellant' because they is appealing a judgement, not defending accusations. 

Like reading about the law? Subscribe to my newsletters.

If you fall into any of these definitions. I also represent victims and witnesses. Call Lisa Christian at 613.203.4874. Visit my main website by clicking here.