Long-Term and Dangerous Offender Designation

From Criminal Law Notebook


See also: List of Dangerous Offender Designated Offences

Part XXIV of the Code, between s. 752 and 761, creates a regime to designate certain offenders as either "long-term offenders" (LTO) or "dangerous offenders" (DO). These offenders will be subject to either a long-term offender supervision order, in the case of an LTO, or an order of indeterminate detention, in the case of the DO.

A DO order is a "preventative sentence ... in its clearest and most extreme form."[1]


The Purpose of DO orders is not punitive and not rehabilitative. It is first and foremost for the purpose of segregating the offender from society.[2] It applies to those offenders where segregation is a "rational means" of achieving public safety.[3]


The LTO/DO regime was challenged as in violation of s. 7 of the Charter. It was found not to violate any of the principles of fundamental justice.[4]

  1. R v Boutilier, 2017 SCC 64 (CanLII), [2017] 2 SCR 936, per Côté J, at para 33
    R v Sipos, 2014 SCC 47 (CanLII), [2014] 2 SCR 423, per Cromwell J, at para 19
  2. Boutilier, supra, at para hpg4c
  3. Boutilier, supra, at para hpg4c
  4. R v Lyons, [1987 SCJ No 62] (working hyperlinks pending), per La Forest J


The original common law form of indefinite detention is faound in the UK Prevent of of Crime Act which imposed a period of custody, on top of the original sentence, of between 5 to 10 years as "preventative" custody.

The provisions of the Criminal Code regarding indefinite detention arose from the 1938 Archambault Report that recommended implementing a regime that separated dangerous offenders from society. In 1947 the first amendments were made creating an indefinite detention order for "habitual criminals."[1] Those eligible had to commit at least three indictable offences and showed a "persistent criminal life".

In 1948, the provisions were amended by SC 1948, c. 39 s. 43, to include those offenders who were found to be "sexual psychopaths". The term was changed in 1960, SC 1960-61, c. 43, s. 32 and 34 to "dangerous sexual offender".

The first amendment to the Criminal Code introducing the modern dangerous offender regime was in 1977.[2] This amendment created the "long term offender" designation.

The regime was later amended in 1997 and the in 2008 with the Tackling Violent Crime Act (SC 2008, c. 6).[3]

  1. R v Ipeelee, 2012 SCC 13 (CanLII), [2012] 1 SCR 433, per LeBel J, at paras 40 to 45
  2. R v Boutilier, 2016 BCCA 235 (CanLII), 336 CCC (3d) 293, per D Smith JA, at para 24
  3. Boutilier, ibid., at para 23
    see List of Criminal Code Amendments