Hostage Taking (Offence)

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Hostage Taking
s. 279.1 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Indictment
Jurisdiction Prov. Court

Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
Sup. Court w/ Judge-alone (*)

* Must be indictable. Preliminary inquiry also available.
Types of Release Judicial Release Only
Indictable Dispositions
Avail. Disp. Discharge (730)

Suspended Sentence (731(1)(a))*
Fine (734)*
Fine + Probation (731(1)(b))*
Jail (718.3, 787)
Jail + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail + Fine (734)
Conditional Sentence (742.1)

(* varies)
Minimum 4, 5, 7 years incarceration
Maximum Life
Reference
Offence Elements
Sentence Digests

Overview

Offences relating to hostage taking are found in Part VIII of the Criminal Code concerning "Offences Against the Person and Reputation".

Pleadings

Offence
Section
Offence
Type
Crown Election Defence Election
s. 536(2)
s. 279.1 [hostage taking] Indictable Offence(s) N/A Yes

Offences under s. 279.1 are straight indictable. There is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2).

Section 727 notice prior to plea is required if Crown is relying upon increased duration on a subsequent s. 109 weapons prohibition order.

Release
When charged under s. 279.1, the accused must be held by police when arrested, they must be brought before a judge or justice under s. 503 and are only to be released by an order of a judge or justice under s. 515. A youth will be subject to a maximum penalty of 3 years under s. 42(15) of the YCJA and can be given an attendance notice without arrest under s. 496 or a summons and if arrested, can be released by the arresting officer under s. 497 on a attendance notice or by an officer-in-charge under s. 498 on a promise to appear or recognizance. The youth can also be released by a justice under s. 515.

Under s. 515(6)(a)(vii), offences charged under s. 279.1 have a reverse onus on bail where it has "been committed with a firearm".

There will be a presumption of custody (reverse onus) if the offence, prosecuted by indictment, was committed:

  • while at large under s. 515 [bail release], 679 or 680 [release pending appeal or review of appeal] (s. 515(6)(a)(i));
  • "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association" with a criminal organization (s. 515(6)(a)(ii));
  • where the offence involved a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, while the accused was subject to a prohibition order preventing possession of these items (s. 515(6)(a)(viii)); or
  • where the accused is not "ordinarily a resident in Canada" (s. 515(6)(b)).

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 victim under s. 111 of the YCJA.

Offence Designations
Offences under 279.1 are designated offences eligible for wiretap under s. 183.

Offences under 279.1 are "designated" offences under s. 752 for the purpose of dangerous offender applications.

See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.

Offence Wording

Hostage taking
279.1 (1) Everyone takes a person hostage who — with intent to induce any person, other than the hostage, or any group of persons or any state or international or intergovernmental organization to commit or cause to be committed any act or omission as a condition, whether express or implied, of the release of the hostage —

(a) confines, imprisons, forcibly seizes or detains that person; and
(b) in any manner utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat that the death of, or bodily harm to, the hostage will be caused or that the confinement, imprisonment or detention of the hostage will be continued.

Hostage-taking
(2) Every person who takes a person hostage is guilty of an indictable offence and liable

(a) if a restricted firearm or prohibited firearm is used in the commission of the offence or if any firearm is used in the commission of the offence and the offence is committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of
(i) in the case of a first offence, five years, and
(ii) in the case of a second or subsequent offence, seven years;
(a.1) in any other case where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Subsequent offences
(2.1) In determining, for the purpose of paragraph (2)(a), whether a convicted person has committed a second or subsequent offence, if the person was earlier convicted of any of the following offences, that offence is to be considered as an earlier offence:

(a) an offence under this section;
(b) an offence under subsection 85(1) or (2) or section 244 or 244.2; or
(c) an offence under section 220, 236, 239, 272 or 273, subsection 279(1) or section 344 or 346 if a firearm was used in the commission of the offence.

However, an earlier offence shall not be taken into account if 10 years have elapsed between the day on which the person was convicted of the earlier offence and the day on which the person was convicted of the offence for which sentence is being imposed, not taking into account any time in custody.
Sequence of convictions only
(2.2) For the purposes of subsection (2.1), the only question to be considered is the sequence of convictions and no consideration shall be given to the sequence of commission of offences or whether any offence occurred before or after any conviction.
Non-resistance
(3) Subsection 279(3) applies to proceedings under this section as if the offence under this section were an offence under section 279.
R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 40; 1995, c. 39, s. 148; 2008, c. 6, s. 31; 2009, c. 22, s. 13.


CCC

Proof of the Offence

Proving hostage taking under s. 279.1 should include:

  1. the culprit intended to induce a person other than the hostage or "group of persons or any state or international or intergovernmental organization to commit or cause to be committed any act or omission as a condition, whether express or implied, of the release of the hostage"
  2. the culprit "confines, imprisons, forcibly seizes or detains that person"
  3. the culprit "in any manner utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat that the death of, or bodily harm to, the hostage will be caused or that the confinement, imprisonment or detention of the hostage will be continued."
  4. the culprit uses a restricted or prohibited firearm in the commission of the offence (aggravating)
  5. the culprit uses a firearm "in the commission of the offence and the offence is committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization". (aggravating)

Interpretation

Defences
The defence of duress is excluded by s. 17 from applying to the offence of hostage taking.

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
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
For general principles and factors of violence and assault-based offences, see Violent and Assaultive Offences

Maximum Penalties

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Maximum Penalty
s. 279.1 [hostage taking] N/A life in custody

Offences under s. 279.1 are straight indictable. The maximum penalty is life incarceration.

Minimum Penalties
For offences under s. 279.1, where the aggravating factors listed under s. 279.1(2)(a) are established, the minimum penalty is 5 years incarceration or 7 years incarceration with a prior record. Where no aggravating factors are present the minimum penalty is not applicable.

For offences under s. 279.1, where the aggravating factors listed under s. 279.1(2)(a.1) are established, the minimum penalty is 4 years incarceration. Where no aggravating factors are present the minimum penalty is not applicable.

Available Dispositions

Offence(s) Crown
Election
Discharge
s. 730
Suspended
Sentence

s. 731(1)(a)
Stand-alone
Fine

s. 731(1)(b)
Custody
s. 718.3, 787
Custody and
Probation
s. 731(1)(b)
Custody and
Fine
s. 734
Conditional
Sentence
(CSO)
s. 742.1
s. 279.1 N/A X Mark Symbol.png OK Symbol.png(*varies) OK Symbol.png(*varies) OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png
s. 279.01(2)(a) and (a.1) N/A X Mark Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png X Mark Symbol.png

If convicted under s. 279.1 a discharge is not available under s. 730(1) as it is "an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed by law or an offence punishable by imprisonment for fourteen years or for life". Offences under s. 279.1 are ineligible for a conditional sentence order under s. 742.1(c), when prosecuted by indictment, as the maximum period of incarceration is 14 years or life.

Offences under s. 279.01(2)(a) or (a.1) have mandatory minimums. There are no discharges, suspended sentences, stand-alone fines, or conditional sentences available.

Consecutive Sentences
There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.

Principles

Ranges

see also: Hostage Taking (Sentencing Cases)

Ancillary Sentencing Orders

See also: Ancillary Orders

Offence-specific Orders

Order Conviction Description
DNA Orders s. 279.1
  • For offences under s. 279.1, as listed under s. 487.04(a.1) to (c.01), (c.03) or (d), a DNA Order is a presumptive mandatory order as a primary designated offence under s. 487.051(2), but the judge may exempt the offender if it is established that "the impact of such an order on their privacy and security of the person would be grossly disproportionate to the public interest in the protection of society and the proper administration of justice, to be achieved through the early detection, arrest and conviction of offenders."
Weapons Prohibition Orders s. 279.1
  • On conviction under s. 279.1 where "violence against a person was used, threatened or attempted", and punishable by "imprisonment for ten years or more", the weapons prohibition order is mandatory under s. 109(1)(a) or where "violence was used, threatened or attempted against" an enumerated party relating to a domestic partnership a weapons prohibition order is mandatory under s. 109(1)(a.1).The order prohibits "the person from possessing any firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition and explosive".
      • Duration (first offence): The Order prohibiting to "firearms" (other than a prohibited firearm or restricted firearm) and "crossbow, restricted weapon, ammunition and explosive substance" is for not less than 10 years starting at release from custody or at sentencing where custody is not ordered. The Order prohibiting "prohibited firearm, restricted firearm, prohibited weapon, prohibited device" is for life.
      • Duration (subsequent s. 109 offence): The duration must be life for all enumerated weapons and firearms. Notice of increased penalty under s. 727 required.
Delayed Parole Order s. 279.1
  • Periods of imprisonment of 2 years or more for convictions under s. 279.1 are eligible for delayed parole order under s. 743.6(1) requiring the offender to serve at least "one half of the sentence or ten years, whichever is less", "where denunciation of the offence or the objective of specific or general deterrence so requires".

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.

History

See also: List of Criminal Code Amendments

2008 to 2009

Hostage taking
279.1 (1) Everyone takes a person hostage who — with intent to induce any person, other than the hostage, or any group of persons or any state or international or intergovernmental organization to commit or cause to be committed any act or omission as a condition, whether express or implied, of the release of the hostage —

(a) confines, imprisons, forcibly seizes or detains that person; and
(b) in any manner utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat that the death of, or bodily harm to, the hostage will be caused or that the confinement, imprisonment or detention of the hostage will be continued.

Hostage-taking
(2) Every person who takes a person hostage is guilty of an indictable offence and liable

(a) if a restricted firearm or prohibited firearm is used in the commission of the offence or if any firearm is used in the commission of the offence and the offence is committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of
(i) in the case of a first offence, five years, and
(ii) in the case of a second or subsequent offence, seven years;
(a.1) in any other case where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Subsequent offences
(2.1) In determining, for the purpose of paragraph (2)(a), whether a convicted person has committed a second or subsequent offence, if the person was earlier convicted of any of the following offences, that offence is to be considered as an earlier offence:

(a) an offence under this section;
(b) an offence under subsection 85(1) or (2) or section 244; or
(c) an offence under section 220, 236, 239, 272 or 273, subsection 279(1) or section 344 or 346 if a firearm was used in the commission of the offence.


However, an earlier offence shall not be taken into account if 10 years have elapsed between the day on which the person was convicted of the earlier offence and the day on which the person was convicted of the offence for which sentence is being imposed, not taking into account any time in custody.
Sequence of convictions only
(2.2) For the purposes of subsection (2.1), the only question to be considered is the sequence of convictions and no consideration shall be given to the sequence of commission of offences or whether any offence occurred before or after any conviction.
Non-resistance
(3) Subsection 279(3) applies to proceedings under this section as if the offence under this section were an offence under section 279.
R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 40; 1995, c. 39, s. 148; 2008, c. 6, s. 31.


CCC

1995 to 2008

Hostage taking
279.1 (1) Every one takes a person hostage who

(a) confines, imprisons, forcibly seizes or detains that person, and
(b) in any manner utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat that the death of, or bodily harm to, the hostage will be caused or that the confinement, imprisonment or detention of the hostage will be continued

with intent to induce any person, other than the hostage, or any group of persons or any state or international or intergovernmental organization to commit or cause to be committed any act or omission as a condition, whether express or implied, of the release of the hostage.
Hostage-taking
(2) Every person who takes a person hostage is guilty of an indictable offence and liable

(a) where a firearm is used in the commission of the offence, to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of four years; and
(b) in any other case, to imprisonment for life.

Non-resistance
(3) Subsection 279(3) applies to proceedings under this section as if the offence under this section were an offence under section 279.
R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 40; 1995, c. 39, s. 148.


CCC

See Also

Reference

Related