Jump, Step and Gap Principles
The "jump", "step", and "gap" principles are principles designed to limit the range of appropriate sentences for offenders who have a prior related records. They are derived from several principles including proportionality, rehabilitation, restraint under s. 718(d), and the totality principle under s. 718.2(c).
R v Bernard, 2011 NSCA 53 (CanLII) at para 26
Frigault v R., 2012 NBCA 8 (CanLII) at para 17
R v Robitaille (1993), 31 BCAC 7 at para 9 ("... the theory that sentences should go up only in moderate steps is a theory which rests on the sentencing principles of rehabilitation. It should be only in cases where rehabilitation is a significant sentencing factor.")
The "jump" or "step" principle (also called the "principle of incremental sentencing") states that subsequent sentences passed should not be disproportionate to the prior offence (ie. a "jump" in sentence). A subsequent offence should have an incremental increase proportionate to frequency of the repeated offences. The purpose of this rule is to avoid having the accused re-punished for past bad acts.
A significant jump in sentence is inconsistent with rehabilitation where that is a significant factor in sentence.
R v White, 2007 NLCA 44 (CanLII)
R v Muyser, 2009 ABCA 116 (CanLII)
R v Murphy,  N.J. No. 43 (C.A.)
R v Muyser at para 8
- R v White, at paras 5 to 8
- R v Muyser, 2009 ABCA 116 (CanLII)
- R v Borde 2003 CanLII 4187 (ON CA), (2003), 63 O.R. (3d) 417, at para 39
- Re Morand and Simpson, (1959), 30 C.R. 298 (Sask. C.A.) See R v Clark, 2005 ABPC 40 (CanLII) citing Ruby on Sentencing
- R v Sloane,  1 N.S.W.L.R. 202 See R v Clark citing Ruby on Sentencing
The jump rule does not apply where the index offence is greatly more serious than the prior offences. The jump principle has greater application for sentences on the lower range of seriousness as there is a greater flexibility in what is an appropriate sentence.
The jump principle is of "less utility" when dealing with an accused "with a lengthy criminal record on multiple convictions". And also where rehabilitation is not realistic and record is related to the offence.
A jump in sentence may be permissible where a previously lenient sentence was not effective in deterring the offender.
The jump principle cannot trump the principle of proportionality.
It can be concluded that the prior sentence was not sufficiently deterrent and so the sentence for the new offence should be increased to focus on specific deterrence.
R v Borde 2003 CanLII 4187 (ON CA), (2003), 63 O.R. (3d) 417, at para 39 ("[The jump principle] has little application where the severity of the offender’s crimes shows a dramatic increase in violence and seriousness.")
R v J.G., 2005 CanLII 36170 (ON SC)
R v Courtney, 2012 ONCA 478 (CanLII) at para 10-11
R v Muyser at para 9
Frigault v R., 2012 NBCA 8 (CanLII)
R v Lohnes, 2007 NSCA 24 (CanLII) at paras 40, 42
R v Thomson, 2013 BCCA 220 (CanLII) at paras 7 to 8
R v Westerman, 2002 CarswellOnt 1041 (C.J.) at paras 28 to 30, 44 to 49
R v Ferrigon, 2007 CarswellOnt 3072 (S.C.) at paras 8 to 12
- R v Blair, 2005 ABCA 414 (CanLII) at para 10
The closely related "step-up" principle (primarily employed in British Columbia) suggests that subsequent sentences should be increased in "moderate steps" or else it may interfere with rehabilitation. This principle however should not be applied where denunciation and deterrence are the primary goals.
- R v Bush (D.F), 2006 BCCA 350 (CanLII) at para 9 ("the principle … that is often used to describe the philosophy that sentences should usually increase in moderate steps since a sudden, large increase in the length of a sentence may interfere with the goal of rehabilitation, if that is the focus of the sentence.")
- R v Bush at para 9 ("The step-up principle has little application where a sentencing judge determines that the offence in question calls for a sentence in which the primary goals are denunciation and deterrence")
- R v Smith, 2006 NSCA 95 (CanLII) at para 36: extensive citation from Ruby on Sentencing
- see §8.83 of Clayton Ruby, Sentencing, 7th ed. (Markham: LexisNexis Canada Inc., 2008)