Enumerated Purposes of Sentencing

From Criminal Law Notebook
Jump to navigation Jump to search

General Principles

See also: Purpose and Principles of Sentencing

The purposes of sentencing are laid out in section 718 of the Criminal Code:

Purpose

718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;
(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;
(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;
(d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders;
(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and
(f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims and to the community.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 718; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 155; 1995, c. 22, s. 6.

CCC


Note up: 718

Fundamental Purpose

The fundamental purpose as stated is that there be "respect for the law" and the maintenance of a "just, peaceful and safe society". [1]

This fundamental purpose will generally take precedent over the welfare of the accused.[2]

How Public is Protected

The public is protected "through sanctions a court imposes upon a person...[e]ach codified objective of sentencing is designed to further the protection of the community."[3]

Objectives Will Vary By Case

There is no single "sentencing objective [that] trumps the other". It is to "the sentencing judge to determine which objective or objectives merit the greatest weight, given the particulars of the case."[4]

In the Canadian system, "the respective importance of prevention, deterrence, retribution and rehabilitation will vary according to the nature of the crime and the circumstances of the offender". None of these factors can be excluded from consideration.[5]

Meaning of Emphasized Objectives

Where statutes or courts declare that certain objectives are to be emphasized as primary, it would then be prohibited for a court to emphasize secondary objectives over the primary ones.[6]

  1. R v Whicher, 2002 BCCA 336 (CanLII), per Hall JA (3:0)
    R v Priest, 1996 CanLII 1381 (ON CA), per Rosenberg JA
  2. R v Cole, 2004 CanLII 58282 (QC CM), per Discepola J
    R v Jackson (1977) 21 N.S.R. (2d) 17 (NSCA) (*no CanLII links)
    R v Smith, [1987] 1 SCR 1045, 1987 CanLII 64 (SCC), per Lamer J
    R v Sweeney, 1992 CanLII 4030 (BC CA), per Hutcheon JA
  3. R v Berner, 2013 BCCA 188 (CanLII), per curiam
  4. R v Nasogaluak, 2010 SCC 6 (CanLII), per LeBel J (9:0), at para 43 ("... No one sentencing objective trumps the others and it falls to the sentencing judge to determine which objective or objectives merit the greatest weight, given the particulars of the case. The relative importance of any mitigating or aggravating factors will then push the sentence up or down the scale of appropriate sentences for similar offences. The judge’s discretion to decide on the particular blend of sentencing goals and the relevant aggravating or mitigating factors ensures that each case is decided on its facts, subject to the overarching guidelines and principles in the Code and in the case law.")
  5. R v Lyons, [1987] 2 SCR 309, 1987 CanLII 25 (SCC), per La Forest J (5:2), at para 26 ("... In a rational system of sentencing, the respective importance of prevention, deterrence, retribution and rehabilitation will vary according to the nature of the crime and the circumstances of the offender. No one would suggest that any of these functional considerations should be excluded from the legitimate purview of legislative or judicial decisions regarding sentencing.")
  6. R v Friesen, 2020 SCC 9 (CanLII), per J, at para 104(complete citation pending)

Denunciation and Deterrence (s. 718(a), (b))

Separation from Society - 718(c)

A sentencing judge must take into account "the exigencies of the case" before determining whether total deprivation of liberty is necessary.[1]

Mental Health

Where a person with mental illness poses a risk to the public the court may need to resort to separating the offender from society, rather than focus on treatment.[2]

Treatment in the community is generally preferred over incarceration.[3] However, this is less so for serious offences.[4]

  1. R v Creighton, [1997] OJ No 2220(*no CanLII links) , at para 6
    R v Shahcheraghi, 2017 ONSC 574 (CanLII), per MOrgan J, at para 19
  2. see R v Desjardins-Paquette, 2012 ONCA 674 (CanLII), per curiam
    R v Virani, 2012 ABCA 155 (CanLII), [2012] AJ No 507 (C.A.), per curiam (3:0), at para 16
  3. R v Lundrigan, 2012 NLCA 43 (CanLII), [2012] NJ No 231 (NLCA), per Rowe JA (3:0), at para 20
  4. see R v JM, [2008] N.J. No. 262 (P.C.) (*no CanLII links)
    R v Taylor, 2012 CanLII 42053 (NL PC), [2012] N.J. No. 251 (P.C.), per Mennie J

Rehabilitation - s.718(d)

Section 718(d) sets out the objective of "assist[ing] in rehabilitating offenders".[1] Rehabilitation can be seen to achieve the objective of protecting the public as it assists in preventing further offences.[2]

Rehabilitation Mitigates Sentence

An offender's "positive potential for rehabilitation" should be to the benefit of the accused on sentence.[3]

In certain cases, where there is a realistic possibility of rehabilitation, the courts may opt not to impose a jail sentence where it would otherwise be appropriate.[4]

Rehabilitation Requires Acceptance of Responsibility

Effective rehabilitation has been seen by some courts as requiring an acceptance of responsibility, likely by way of a guilty plea, and an understanding of the harm done.[5]

Rehabilitation Always a Factor

No sentence should deprive the offender of any hope of rehabilitation.[6]

  1. see also R v Gill (2006), 2006 BCCA 127 (CanLII), per Mackenzie JA (2:1)
  2. R v Simmons, Allen and Bezzo (1973), 13 CCC 65 (Ont.C.A.), 1973 CanLII 1522 (ON CA), per Brooke JA
  3. R v Gouliaeff, 2012 ONCA 690 (CanLII), per curiam (3:0), at para 12
  4. R v Preston, 1990 CanLII 576 (BC CA), per curiam (5:0)
  5. See R v Lee, 2011 NSPC 81 (CanLII), per Derrick J, at para 83
    R v Seguin, [1997] OJ No 5439 at 18 (*no CanLII links)
  6. R v Johnson, 2012 ONCA 339 (CanLII), per Blair JA, at paras 15 to 25
    R v Parry, 2012 ONCA 171 (CanLII), per Armstrong JA, at paras 17 to 19

Specific Offence Objectives - 718.01 and 718.02

In 2005 and 2009, sections 718.01 and 718.02 were added:

Objectives — offences against children

718.01 When a court imposes a sentence for an offence that involved the abuse of a person under the age of eighteen years, it shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of such conduct.
2005, c. 32, s. 24.

CCC

Objectives — offence against peace officer or other justice system participant

718.02 When a court imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection 270(1) [assault peace officer], section 270.01 [assault peace officer with weapon or causing bodily harm] or 270.02 [aggravated assault of peace officer] or paragraph 423.1(1)(b) [impeding justice system participant in their duties], the court shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of the conduct that forms the basis of the offence.
2009, c. 22, s. 18.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC

Objectives — offence against certain animals

718.03 When a court imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection 445.01(1) [x], the court shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of the conduct that forms the basis of the offence.

2015, c. 34, s. 4.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC

Objectives — offence against vulnerable person

718.04 When a court imposes a sentence for an offence that involved the abuse of a person who is vulnerable because of personal circumstances — including because the person is Aboriginal and female — the court shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of the conduct that forms the basis of the offence.

2019, c. 25, s. 292.1

CCC

Non-Criminal Code Offences