Assisted Dying Offences (Offence)

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Overview

Offences relating to assisted dying offences are found in Part VIII of the Criminal Code concerning "Offences Against the Person and Reputation".

Pleadings
Release
Publication Bans
For all offences there is a discretionary general publication ban available on application of the Crown, victim or witness to prohibit the publishing of "any information that could identify the victim or witness" under s. 486.5(1) where it is "necessary" for the "proper administration of justice". Other available publication bans include prohibitions for publishing evidence or other information arising from a bail hearing (s. 517), preliminary inquiry (s. 539) or jury trial (s. 648). There is a mandatory publication ban in all youth prosecutions on information tending to identify young accused under s. 110 of the YCJA or young victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.

Offence Designations

Offence Wording

Failure to comply with safeguards
241.3 A medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who, in providing medical assistance in dying, knowingly fails to comply with all of the requirements set out in paragraphs 241.2(3)(b) to (i) and subsection 241.2(8) is guilty of an offence and is liable

(a) on conviction on indictment, to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years; or
(b) on summary conviction, to a term of imprisonment of not more than 18 months.

2016, c. 3, s. 3.


CCC

Forgery
241.4 (1) Everyone commits an offence who commits forgery in relation to a request for medical assistance in dying.
Destruction of documents
(2) Everyone commits an offence who destroys a document that relates to a request for medical assistance in dying with intent to interfere with

(a) another person’s access to medical assistance in dying;
(b) the lawful assessment of a request for medical assistance in dying; or
(c) another person invoking an exemption under any of subsections 227(1) or (2), 241(2) to (5) or 245(2).

Punishment
(3) Everyone who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2) is liable

(a) on conviction on indictment, to a term of imprisonment of not more than five years; or
(b) on summary conviction, to a term of imprisonment of not more than 18 months.

(4) In subsection (2), document has the same meaning as in section 321.

2016, c. 3, s. 3.


CCC

Proof of the Offence

Proving Failure to comply with safeguards under s. 241.3 should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)

Proving Forgery in Relation to Assisted Dying under s. 241.4 should include:

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)


Interpretation of the Offence

Eligibility for medical assistance in dying
241.2 (1) A person may receive medical assistance in dying only if they meet all of the following criteria:

(a) they are eligible — or, but for any applicable minimum period of residence or waiting period, would be eligible — for health services funded by a government in Canada;
(b) they are at least 18 years of age and capable of making decisions with respect to their health;
(c) they have a grievous and irremediable medical condition;
(d) they have made a voluntary request for medical assistance in dying that, in particular, was not made as a result of external pressure; and
(e) they give informed consent to receive medical assistance in dying after having been informed of the means that are available to relieve their suffering, including palliative care.

Grievous and irremediable medical condition
(2) A person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition only if they meet all of the following criteria:

(a) they have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability;
(b) they are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability;
(c) that illness, disease or disability or that state of decline causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable; and
(d) their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all of their medical circumstances, without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time that they have remaining.

Safeguards
(3) Before a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner provides a person with medical assistance in dying, the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner must

(a) be of the opinion that the person meets all of the criteria set out in subsection (1);
(b) ensure that the person’s request for medical assist­ance in dying was
(i) made in writing and signed and dated by the person or by another person under subsection (4), and
(ii) signed and dated after the person was informed by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner that the person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition;
(c) be satisfied that the request was signed and dated by the person — or by another person under subsection (4) — before two independent witnesses who then also signed and dated the request;
(d) ensure that the person has been informed that they may, at any time and in any manner, withdraw their request;
(e) ensure that another medical practitioner or nurse practitioner has provided a written opinion confirming that the person meets all of the criteria set out in subsection (1);
(f) be satisfied that they and the other medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) are independent;
(g) ensure that there are at least 10 clear days between the day on which the request was signed by or on behalf of the person and the day on which the medical assistance in dying is provided or — if they and the other medical practitioner or nurse practitioner referred to in paragraph (e) are both of the opinion that the person’s death, or the loss of their capacity to provide informed consent, is imminent — any shorter period that the first medical practitioner or nurse practitioner considers appropriate in the circumstances;
(h) immediately before providing the medical assist­ance in dying, give the person an opportunity to withdraw their request and ensure that the person gives express consent to receive medical assistance in dying; and
(i) if the person has difficulty communicating, take all necessary measures to provide a reliable means by which the person may understand the information that is provided to them and communicate their decision.

Unable to sign
(4) If the person requesting medical assistance in dying is unable to sign and date the request, another person — who is at least 18 years of age, who understands the nature of the request for medical assistance in dying and who does not know or believe that they are a beneficiary under the will of the person making the request, or a recipient, in any other way, of a financial or other material benefit resulting from that person’s death — may do so in the person’s presence, on the person’s behalf and under the person’s express direction.
Independent witness
(5) Any person who is at least 18 years of age and who understands the nature of the request for medical assist­ance in dying may act as an independent witness, except if they

(a) know or believe that they are a beneficiary under the will of the person making the request, or a recipient, in any other way, of a financial or other material benefit resulting from that person’s death;
(b) are an owner or operator of any health care facility at which the person making the request is being treated or any facility in which that person resides;
(c) are directly involved in providing health care serv­ices to the person making the request; or
(d) directly provide personal care to the person making the request.

Independence — medical practitioners and nurse practitioners
(6) The medical practitioner or nurse practitioner providing medical assistance in dying and the medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who provides the opinion referred to in paragraph (3)(e) are independent if they

(a) are not a mentor to the other practitioner or responsible for supervising their work;
(b) do not know or believe that they are a beneficiary under the will of the person making the request, or a recipient, in any other way, of a financial or other material benefit resulting from that person’s death, other than standard compensation for their services relating to the request; or
(c) do not know or believe that they are connected to the other practitioner or to the person making the request in any other way that would affect their objectivity.

Reasonable knowledge, care and skill
(7) Medical assistance in dying must be provided with reasonable knowledge, care and skill and in accordance with any applicable provincial laws, rules or standards.
Informing pharmacist
(8) The medical practitioner or nurse practitioner who, in providing medical assistance in dying, prescribes or obtains a substance for that purpose must, before any pharmacist dispenses the substance, inform the pharmacist that the substance is intended for that purpose.
Clarification
(9) For greater certainty, nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.
2016, c. 3, s. 3.


CCC


Defintions

Definitions
241.1 The following definitions apply in this section and in sections 241.2 to 241.4.
medical assistance in dying means

(a) the administering by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of a substance to a person, at their request, that causes their death; or
(b) the prescribing or providing by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of a substance to a person, at their request, so that they may self-administer the substance and in doing so cause their own death. (aide médicale à mourir)

medical practitioner means a person who is entitled to practise medicine under the laws of a province. (médecin)

nurse practitioner means a registered nurse who, under the laws of a province, is entitled to practise as a nurse practitioner — or under an equivalent designation — and to autonomously make diagnoses, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe substances and treat patients. (infirmier praticien)

pharmacist means a person who is entitled to practise pharmacy under the laws of a province. (pharmacien)

2016, c. 3, s. 3.


CCC

Defences

Exemption for medical assistance in dying
227 (1) No medical practitioner or nurse practitioner commits culpable homicide if they provide a person with medical assistance in dying in accordance with section 241.2.
Exemption for person aiding practitioner
(2) No person is a party to culpable homicide if they do anything for the purpose of aiding a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to provide a person with medical assistance in dying in accordance with section 241.2.
Reasonable but mistaken belief
(3) For greater certainty, the exemption set out in subsection (1) or (2) applies even if the person invoking it has a reasonable but mistaken belief about any fact that is an element of the exemption.
Non-application of section 14
(4) Section 14 does not apply with respect to a person who consents to have death inflicted on them by means of medical assistance in dying provided in accordance with section 241.2.
Definitions
(5) In this section, medical assistance in dying, medical practitioner and nurse practitioner have the same meanings as in section 241.1.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 227; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 34; 1997, c. 18, s. 9; 1999, c. 5, s. 9; 2016, c. 3, s. 2.


Participation of Third Parties

See also: Role of the Victim and Third Parties and Testimonial Aids for Young, Disabled or Vulnerable Witnesses

Testimonial Aids
Certain persons who testify are entitled to make application for the use of testimonial aids: Exclusion of Public (s. 486), Use of a Testimonial Screen (s. 486), Access to Support Person While Testifying (s. 486.1), Close Proximity Video-link Testimony (s. 486.2), Self-Represented Cross-Examination Prohibition Order (s. 486.3), and Witness Security Order (s. 486.7).

A witness, victim or complainant may also request publication bans (s. 486.4, 486.5) and/or a Witness Identity Non-disclosure Order (s. 486.31). See also, Publication Bans, above.

On Finding of Guilt
For serious personal injury offences or murder, s. 606(4.1) requires that after accepting a guilty plea, the judge must inquire whether "any of the victims had advised the prosecutor of their desire to be informed if such an agreement were entered into, and, if so, whether reasonable steps were taken to inform that victim of the agreement". Failing to take reasonable steps at guilty plea requires the prosecutor to "as soon as feasible, take reasonable steps to inform the victim of the agreement and the acceptance of the plea" (s. 606(4.3)).

Under s. 738, a judge must inquire from the Crown before sentencing whether "reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victims with an opportunity to indicate whether they are seeking restitution for their losses and damages".

Under s. 722(2), the judge must inquire "[a]s soon as feasible" before sentencing with the Crown "if reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victim with an opportunity to prepare" a victim impact statement. This will include any person "who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss" as a result of the offence. Individuals representing a community impacted by the crime may file a statement under s. 722.2.

Sentencing Principles and Ranges

See also: Purpose and Principles of Sentencing, Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offender, and Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offence

Maximum Penalties


Minimum Penalties
Available Dispositions
Consecutive Sentences
There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.

Principles

Ranges

Ancillary Sentencing Order

Offence-specific Orders

General Sentencing Orders

Order Conviction Description
Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21) any The judge has discretion to order that the offender be prohibited "from communicating...with any victim, witness or other person" while in custody except where the judge "considers [it] necessary" to communicate with them.
Restitution Orders (s. 738) any A discretionary Order is available for things such as the replacement value of the property; the pecuniary damages incurred from harm, expenses fleeing a domestic partner; or certain expenses arising from the commission of an offence under s.402.2 or 403.
Victim Fine Surcharge (s. 737) any A mandatory surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order is discretionary based on ability to pay and the minimum amounts are smaller (15%, $50, or $100).

General Forfeiture Orders

Forfeiture Conviction Description
Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime (s. 462.37(1) or (2.01)) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence under the Code or the CDSA in which property is "proceeds of crime" and offence was "committed in relation to that property", the property shall be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen on application of the Crown.
Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture (s. 462.37(3)) any Where a Court is satisfied an order for the forfeiture of proceeds of crime under s. 462.37(!) or (2.01) can be made, but that property cannot be "made subject to an order", then the Court "may" order a fine in "an amount equal to the value of the property". Failure to pay the fine will result in a default judgement imposing a period of incarceration.
Forfeiture of Weapons or Firearms (s. 491) any Where there is finding of guilt for an offence where a "weapon, an imitation firearm, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance was used in the commission of [the] offence and that thing has been seized and detained", or "that a person has committed an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance has been seized and detained, that the item be an enumerated weapon or related item be connected to the offence", then there will be a mandatory forfeiture order. However, under s. 491(2), if the lawful owner "was not a party to the offence" and the judge has "no reasonable grounds to believe that the thing would or might be used in the commission of an offence", then it should be returned to the lawful owner.
Forfeiture of Offence-related Property (s. 490.1) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence, "any property is offence-related property" where (a) by means or in respect of which an indictable offence under this Act or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is committed, (b) that is used in any manner in connection with the commission of such an offence, or (c) that is intended to be used for committing such an offence". Such property is to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province.

See Also

References