Sentencing Starting Points

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General Principles

A "starting point" for sentences are set as guides and are factors to consider the appropriate sentence. They are meant to achieve greater uniformity and consistency. They are "most useful in circumstances where there is a large disparity between sentences imposed". [1]

Generalized offences with a "myriad of factual underpinnings" have been rejected as having a fixed "starting point".[2]

The "starting point" is an effective mid-point within the range of sentence for the offence. [3]

A starting point of sentence will be raised and lowered after considering the aggravating and mitigating factors on sentence.[4]

A starting point cannot be artificially lowered by examination into prior case law that shows lower sentences than the designated "starting point" and deem it to be the "correct" starting point. [5]

A judge would does not mention starting points in sentence where one exists is not committing an error in principle.[6]

Starting points assume the accused is of good character with no record.[7]

  1. R v McDonnell [1997] S.C.J. No. 42, 1997 CanLII 389
  2. e.g. R v Jefferson, 2008 ABCA 365
  3. McDonnell at para 60 (“... The starting point may be viewed as the mid-point in the traditional range of sentences for a particular sort of crime.”
  4. R v Ostertag, 2000 ABCA 232 (CanLII)
  5. R v Marchesi, 2009 ABCA 304 (CanLII) at para 7
  6. R v Lee, 2012 ABCA 17 (CanLII) at para 58
    R v Stone, 1999 CanLII 688 (SCC), [1999] 2 SCR 290
    R v Wells, 2000 SCC 10 (CanLII), [2000] 1 SCR 207,
    L.M., 2008 SCC 31 (CanLII), [2008] 2 SCR 163
  7. R v McDonnell, 1997 CanLII 389 (SCC), [1997] 1 SCR 948

See Also