|Failing to Provide the Necessaries of Life|
|s. 215 of the Crim. Code|
|Election / Plea|
summary proceedings must initiate within 12 months of the offence (786(2))
Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
|Avail. Disp.||Discharge (730)|
Conditional Sentence (742.1)
|Maximum||18 months incarceration|
|Avail. Disp.||same as summary|
|Maximum||5 years incarceration|
Offences relating to failing to provide the necessaries of life are found in Part VIII of the Criminal Code concerning "Offences Against the Person and Reputation".
|Crown Election||Defence Election
|s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life]||Hybrid Offence(s)||(* only if Crown proceeds by Indictment)||(under 14 years max)|
Offences under s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life] are hybrid with a Crown election. If prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2) to trial by provincial court, superior court judge-alone or superior court judge-and-jury.
by Peace Officer
by Judge or Justice
s. 508(1), 512(1), or 788
s. 498, 499, and 501
a Judge or Justice
on a Release Order
s. 515 to 519
|Direct to Attend |
for Fingerprints, etc.
Identification of Criminals Act
s. 2 ID Crim. Act
|s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life]|
When charged under s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life] , the accused can be given an appearance notice without arrest under s. 497 or a summons. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 498 or 499 on an undertaking with or without conditions. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.
- Reverse Onus Bail
If police decide to bring the accused before a Justice pursuant to s. 503, there will be a presumption against bail (i.e. a 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 weapon, being 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)).
And, regardless of Crown election, if the offence alleged was one:
- where the offence was an allegation of violence against an "intimate partner" and the accused had been previously convicted of an offence of violence against an "intimate partner" (s. 515(6)(b.1));
- where the offence alleged is a breach under s. 145(2) to (5) while (s. 515(6)(c));
- where the offence committed (or conspired to commit) was an offence under s. 5 to 7 of the CDSA that is punishable by life imprisonment (s. 515(6)(d));
- Fingerprints and Photos
A peace officer who charges a person under s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life] of the Code can require that person to attend for the taking of fingerprints, photographs or other similar recordings that are used to identify them under the Identification of Criminals Act.
- Publication Bans
For all criminal or regulatory prosecutions, 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 victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.
- Offence Designations
|AG Consent Required||Serious Criminality|
s. 36 IRPA
|s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life]||(under 10 years max)|
See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.
Draft Form of Charges
|"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, between the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR> and <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>***, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR|
|"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, on or about the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR|
|"AND FURTHER at the same time and place aforesaid, he [or she]..."|
|Code Section||Subject of Offence||Draft Wording|
|"..., contrary to section XXX of the Criminal Code.|
Proof of the Offence
Proving failure to provide necessaries of life (parental) under s. 215(1)(a) should include: 
Proving failure to provide necessaries of life (spousal) under s. 215(1)(b) should include:
Proving failure to provide necessaries of life (disability) under s. 215(1)(c) should include:
Interpretation of the Offence
The purpose of s. 215 is to establish a uniform minimum level of care to be provided to certain designated persons, a societal standard rather than a personal standard.
- Existence of Duty
Factors to consider whether there is a duty includes the severity of the injury and the knowledge that it occurred.
- Actus Reus and Mens Rea
Where the duty is found, the crown must prove:
- the culprit acts or omissions which led to the failure to provide necessaries of life were a marked departure from the conduct of a reasonably prudent person in similar circumstances, and
- it was objectively foreseeable that the failure to provide necessaries would lead to a risk of danger to the life or permanent endangerment to the health of the person to whom the duty is owed.
The accused's conduct is to be considered on an objective standard and so the individual characteristics and experiences of the accused are not relevant.
"Endangers" refers to exposing someone to danger, harm or risk but does not connote actual injury or damage.
The Crown does not need to prove that the accused knew the risk of danger or that they intended to expose the victim to any risk of danger.
- "necessaries of life"
The judge must consider "the severity of the injury and the knowledge that it occurred."
Failure to seek medical attention can be a failure to provide necessaries of life.
The phrase "proof of which lies upon him" violates s. 11(d) and so those words are to be struck out.
- R v Naglik, 1993 CanLII 64 (SCC),  3 SCR 122, per Lamer CJ
R v Alexander, 2011 ONSC 980 (CanLII), per Molloy J cited in R v Turley, 2012 BCSC 397 (CanLII), per Stromberg-Stein J, at para 146
- Turley, supra
R v Lovett, 2017 ABQB 46 (CanLII), 48 Alta LR (6th) 130, per Eidsvik J, at para 11
also see R v Letourneau, 2007 CanLII 345 (ON SC), OTC 58, per Boyko J, at paras 94 and 95
Naglik, supra, at para 54
Lovett, supra, at para 11
R v JAR, 2012 BCPC 195 (CanLII), per Giardini J, at para 82
R v Brooks, 1902 CanLII 90 (BC SC), 5 CCC 372 (BCCA), per Drake J
- R v JF, 2007 ONCA 500 (CanLII), 222 CCC (3d) 474, per MacFarland JA, at paras 50 to 51, aff’d R v JF 2008 SCC 60 (CanLII), per Fish J (6:1)
Turley, supra, at para 146
JAR, supra, at para 82
- R v Pertab, 2004 CanLII 47791 (ON SC), 27 CR (6th) 126, per Hill J, at para 29
R v Scott, 1996 CanLII 7083 (SK QB), 110 CCC (3d) 473, per Blacklock Linn J
R v Curtis, 1998 CanLII 1999 (ON CA), 123 CCC (3d) 178, per Goudge JA
"Child" is no longer defined in Part VIII.
Section 214 defines "guardian" as including "a person who has in law or in fact the custody or control of a child".
The terms "abandon" and "expose" are defined in s. 214 and cover all of Part VIII. The terms "include":
- (a) "a wilful omission to take charge of a child by a person who is under a legal duty to do so", and
- (b) "dealing with a child in a manner that is likely to leave that child exposed to risk without protection;"
Section 2 defines:
- "Mental disorder"
- "common-law partner"
- Section 214 defining "child" was repealed in 2002
Participation of Third Parties
- 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
s. 606(4.1) [SPIO]
for Interest in Agreement
s. 606(4.2) [5+ years]
|Victim Notice |
of Impact Statement
|s. x [x]|
For any indictable offence with a maximum penalty no less than 5 years (including offences under s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life]), but are not serious personal injury offences, s. 606(4.2) requires that after accepting a guilty plea, the judge must inquire whether "any of the victims had advised the prosecutor of their desire to be informed if such an agreement were entered into, and, if so, whether reasonable steps were taken to inform that victim of the agreement". Failing to take reasonable steps at guilty plea requires the prosecutor to "as soon as feasible, take reasonable steps to inform the victim of the agreement and the acceptance of the plea" (s. 606(4.3)).
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
- Maximum Penalties
|s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life]||summary election||18 months incarceration|
|s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life]||indictable election||5 years incarceration|
Offences under s. 215 are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 5 years incarceration. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is 18 months incarceration.
- Minimum Penalties
These offences have no mandatory minimum penalties.
- Available Dispositions
s. 718.3, 787
|s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life]||any|
For offences under s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life], all dispositions are available. The judge may order a discharge (s. 730), suspended sentence (s. 731(1)(a)), fine (s. 731(1)(b)), custody (s. 718.3, 787), custody with probation (s. 731(1)(b)), custody with a fine (s. 734), or a conditional sentence (s. 742.1).
- Consecutive Sentences
There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.
Sentencing must emphasize denunciation and deterrence.
- use of weapon or confinement (Nickel)
- use of potentially harmful substances such as drugs or alcohol (Nickel)
- involvement of third parties (Nickel)
- multiplicity of victims or offences over time (Nickel)
The range for a first-time offender where the offence concerns the neglect of the elderly will often be between 4 and 8 months.
Ancillary Sentencing Orders
- Offence-specific Orders
|DNA Orders||s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life]||
- General Sentencing Orders
|Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21)||any||The judge has the 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 discretionary surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If the offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order has smaller minimum amounts (15%, $50, or $100).|
- General Forfeiture Orders
|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 His Majesty the King on application of the Crown. NB: does not apply to summary offences.|
|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(1) 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. NB: does not apply to summary offences.|
Record Suspensions and Pardons
Convictions under s. 215 [failing to provide the necessities of life] are eligible for record suspensions pursuant to s. 3 and 4 of the Criminal Records Act after 5 years after the expiration of sentence for summary conviction offences and 10 years after the expiration of sentence for all other offences. The offender may not have the record suspended where the offender was (1) convicted of 3 or more offences with a maximum penalty of life, and (2) for each 3 offences he "was sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more".
- Related Offences