WTF Is A Private Prosecution?

Yaniv’s been gloating about pushing his own charges against Donald Smith, and possibly others. This process is real, although very rarely used, and even more rarely successful. I’ll first explain the process, and then explain where Yaniv is in this process as of today, February 6, 2020.

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There’s a little known section of the Canada Criminal Code (Section 504) that says (in layperson terms) that any person may “lay an information” in writing and under oath and that a justice must accept it if accuser swears that there is an alleged indictable offence or if a person is in possession of stolen property. The criminal code is specific that any one can lay an information, including a private citizen.

“Lay an information” is legalese for a pressing a charge and beginning the legal process to pursue that charge. Law enforcement officers typically initiate criminal charges either by laying an information, which is sworn to be true by the officer, or an indictment, which is an unsworn accusation.

The person that lays the information is called a private informant. They must fill out a standard form and list the names and information of any witnesses of the alleged crime, and indicate whether or not the police have taken any action prior to the informant initiating this process.

Next, a justice of the peace reviews the documents at a pre-inquiry hearing (remember this part) and determines if there is sufficient grounds to proceed with bringing the accused person to court, either via a summons or a warrant. This is known as the issuing process.

Remember that Canadian courts are quite busy, often backlogged. This pre-inquiry hearing takes it’s place in queue along with every other case. It may take weeks, or even months, before a justice of the peace arrives at this step. It’s also important to note that this pre-inquiry hearing occurs in a very one sided fashion – only the accuser is required to present information at this time.

This is an important detail – at this time, the accused person isn’t even involved. They haven’t been named on any publicly available documents. Why? Imagine how much damage a person could cause to someone else simply by laying false information charges against people vexatiously. Sure, the accuser may get in trouble later for filing false accusations, but if the accused’s name was dragged through the mud without any evidence (yet), that would be damaging.

This is why these cases, which must be accepted into the legal record, are logged as “Limited Access”, or “Restricted Access”. In short, it’s because the accuser has a right to be heard, but the accused also has a right to fairness, and the court has a duty to ensure that ensure that the accused is protected from vexatious, hurtful, and baseless accusations by people that abuse the court system.

It’s also important to note that the informant must demonstrate what is called prima facie evidence. This is the most basic form of evidence. It means evidence that is accepted as correct until proven otherwise. In other words, it looks real at first, but could be disproved later.

At this point a few things can happen. A prosecutor may prefer to indict the person instead, and they (in this case, the Crown Prosecutor) essentially take over and the case proceeds through the typical legal process.

Additionally, the Crown Prosecutor can simply withdraw the charges, effectively shutting down the entire process, or enter a stay, which is stopping the process, but leaving the option to re-open it later under different conditions.

Almost every single private prosecution ends here – the prosecutor sees real evidence and takes over, or tells the informant to take a hike.

If the prosecutor chooses not to take over, withdraw, or stay the charges, the private informant can continue under normal court rules, effectively acting as his or her own prosecutor. The private informant conducts the preliminary hearing and even the trial.

If the informant delays the process, or the justice does not issue process at the pre-inquiry hearing within 6 months, the entire file is thrown out, and deemed never to have been laid, thus protecting the accused persons name.

Obviously, this process can be easily abused by people like Jessica Yaniv, and this is exactly what is happening.

Before we look at where Yaniv is in the process, we need to review what we know about Yaniv’s claims.

First off, I want to be clear that I am speculating below, and that I am basing this on what I’ve seen on social media, news sites, and forums. I could be wrong in any or all of this.

If you want to understand this process, you need to read this next part carefully.

In November 2019, Yaniv bragged about laying multiple charges against Donald Smith, and ,if I recall, they were mostly for harassment.

Around this time, two limited access line items appeared on the BC Court Services Online (CSO) website when you search “Jessica Yaniv”. This is shown below. Note the difference between the top two lines and the third line. The bottom one is the formal charges against Yaniv, initiated by the RCMP, for illegal weapons possession. The public can pay a small fee and view those court documents, but not the limited access records.

Soon after, two additional limited access line items appeared. It was around this time that Yaniv was gloating on social media about getting Donald arrested. The screenshot below now showed four limited access events linked to “J Yaniv”

Now, I can’t click these files, open them, read anything, but with a little detective work I can make a few very educated guesses that link at least three of these directly to Donald Smith.

The screenshot above shows charges against Donald Smith (file 237538). These were filed by the RCMP for harassment, uttering threats, and breach of undertaking.

Other articles on Meow Mix describe these events in detail but I want to be clear – these were not initiated by Yaniv’s private prosecution. These were filed directly by the RCMP as a result of events between Yaniv and Smith. Yaniv’s private prosecution charges are ADDITIONAL charges that Yaniv is seeking to viciously and vexatiously lock Donald up.

I also want to be clear that Donald did spend time in jail, but not as a result of Yaniv’s private prosecutions. Donald spent time in jail directly because of the RCMP charges.

What I can say though is that we know Yaniv bragged about filing private charges against Donald, and around the same date, these three Limited Access line items appeared when you search for Donald on CSO. Coincidence? I doubt it.

What am I saying? I’m saying that even though we can’t access Yaniv’s documents, he filed (so far, keep reading) at least 4 private prosecutions, and we know from another source that at least one was stayed by the prosecution for reasons unknown. At the same time as these appeared when you search for Jessica Yaniv, three limited access lines also appeared when you search for Donald on CSO. I’d call that a link.

(4 filed by Yaniv, 1 stayed by crown, 3 applied to Donald’s record pending hearings)

So where is Yaniv in this whole process? Remember earlier when I said to remember the part about the pre-inquiry hearing? That’s where Yaniv is.

The pre-inquiry hearing to validate Yaniv’s charges hasn’t even occurred yet. If it had, I can almost guarantee the charges would have been stayed or withdrawn because Yaniv is an idiot. In the minute chance they were accepted, the limited access would be changed and they would show as proper records, listing the name of the accused and the charges.

But wait…there’s one more mystery…

The most recent CSO search shows FIVE Limited Access lines. The 5th appeared on February 4th, but no additional lines appear for Donald. Who could these belong to?

Here’s what we do know:

  • He was photographed in court on February 4th and 5th, 2020.
  • It does NOT appear on Donald’s CSO search results.
  • It also does not appear on Keean Bexte or Amy Hamm’s search results.

That’s not much to go on. Yaniv could be filing a private prosecution against someone else, but I suspect he would gloat about it. More likely, at least in my mind, is that Yaniv attempted to file charges against Bexte or Hamm and they were stayed by the prosecution for some sort of error or other procedural reason. Obviously I’m speculating, but we know how vengeful Yaniv is, and we know he’s already made false accusations against Bexte and Hamm. If the police had charged either, there would be proper records. There aren’t.

If you made it this far, thank you. This was a long process to explain but I hope I helped you understand it. If you spot an error, please comment or email us so we can fix it!