Victims as a Factor in Sentencing

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General Principles

See also: Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offence

Consideration of the harm or risk of harm to a victim includes consideration of the extent of violence used.

A vulnerable victim will typically be treated as an aggravating factor. A child victim or person with physical or mental disabilities will be considered particularly aggravating.

Victim Under 18 Years of Age

Section 718.01 requires that "[w]hen a court imposes a sentence for an offence that involved the abuse of a person under the age of eighteen years, it shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of such conduct."

In relation to s.718.01, it has been stated that it "has always been the position of this court in dealing with crimes against defenseless children that a strong response was warranted".[1]

Section 718.2 makes any offence that abuses a person under the age of 18 is aggravating.[2]

Offences where young victims must always be considered:

de facto consent
There should be no recognition in law of a "de facto" consent on the part of the victim as a mitigating factor to sexual offences against young children as it will have the effect of victim blaming.[3]

  1. R v Nickle, 2012 ABCA 158 (CanLII) at para 19
  2. Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offence and Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offender
  3. R v Hajar, 2016 ABCA 222 (CanLII) at para 100 ("Using the “willing participation of the child” as a mitigating factor in sentencing, despite the fact the child is incapable of consenting, must be recognized for what it is – blaming the victim. It also improperly diminishes the offender’s culpability. ...The result of this flawed thinking – the adult offender is treated as if he or she is not actually responsible for their behaviour, but the child victim is. ...The child becomes the perpetrator and the offender becomes the victim.")

See Also