Sentencing in Criminal Cases in Canada.
The sentencing of an accused person is not an easy task because of the numerous factors and circumstances that the judge is required to consider. A lawyer may assist you in these submissions and explain to the court why leniency or restraint should be considered. Even in sentencing, a lawyer is a vital tool in ensuring that your time spent in custody, the fine you pay, or the sentence you receive is not excessive and proportionate the offence your were found guilty for.
Some basic principles of sentencing include the following:
718.1: A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.
718.2: A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:
- (a)a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,(b) a sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances;
- (i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor
- (ii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused the offender’s spouse or common-law partner,
- (ii.1) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a person under the age of eighteen years,
- (iii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim
- (iv) evidence that the offence was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization, or
- (v) evidence that the offence was a terrorism offence shall be deemed to be aggravating circumstances;
- (c) where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh;
- (d) an offender should not be deprived of liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate in the circumstances; and
- (e) all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.
As one can see, sentencing is complicated; particularly when it is necessary to ensure that all of the positive factors are enhanced and all the negative components are adequately explained. Retaining a lawyer who is familiar with these written and other unwritten practice experiences is critical in ensuring that an accused receives the best sentence possible in the event that you are convicted.