The Superior Court is made up of a judge and 12 jurors when it hears criminal cases. Exceptionally, a judge will hear a case without the help of a jury.
The Superior Court is the only place where certain types of accusations can be brought, such as murder, treason, and piracy. A person accused of one of these offences will automatically be judged by a court composed of a judge and jury.
Otherwise, for most offences considered “indictable offences” under the Criminal Code, the accused can have his trial either before the Superior Court, or before a judge alone. If he chooses to be heard by a judge alone, he will be sent before the Court of Québec, Criminal and Penal Division. Where the accused does not indicate his preference, he will be assumed to have chosen a trial by judge and jury in Superior Court.
In addition to hearing these trials, the Superior Court can also handle appeals of decisions made by the Court of Québec (for offences punishable on summary conviction) or the municipal courts, for certain types of offences.