History of the Purpose and Principles of Sentencing

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In September 1996, Bill C-41, an "Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing) and other Acts in consequence thereof", S.C. 1995, c. 22, came into force which created many of the statutory sentencing provisions found in Part XXIII of the Code.

In 2015, section 718 was replaced. The version between 1995 and 2015 stated:

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.


The amendments replaced s. 718, 718(a) and 718(f). The amendment to s. 718 added the clause "to protect society" as a purpose of sentencing. The amendment to s. 718(a) added the clause "and the harm done to victims or to the community that is caused by unlawful conduct". The amendment to s. 718(f) changed the last "and" to an "or".

Addition of Other Objectives

Section 718.01 relating to objectives for offences against children was added in 2005.

Section 718.02 relating to objectives for offences against peace officers and justice system participants was added in 2009.