Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mandatory minimum sentencing struck down by Canada's top court

Supreme Court strikes at mandatory-minimum sentences | Ottawa Citizen - Ian MacLeod:

April 14, 2015 - "The Conservative government reaffirmed its tough-on-crime commitment Tuesday, trying to appear undeterred by yet another Supreme Court of Canada decision striking down as unconstitutional a showcase statute in its signature anti-crime agenda.

"The government’s mandatory-minimum sentencing regime for illegal possession of a firearm, introduced in 2008 as part of the Tackling Violent Crime Act, violates Section 12 of the Charter of Rights because it has the potential to be cruel and unusual punishment, the court ruled in a 6-3 decision.

"The judgment is the seventh major defeat for the government and its policies and arguments at the hands of the Supreme Court since 2011.

"Its anti-crime agenda in particular has now suffered three stinging blows. High-court rulings struck down as unconstitutional Conservative statutes limiting inmates’ credit for pre-trial time spent in custody, and changes to parole eligibility....

"The now-impugned law increased the minimum sentence for some gun-related crimes, including possession of a loaded firearm – from one year to three years for a first offence, and from one year to five years for a second. It also imposed a five-year minimum sentence on those previously convicted of serious, weapons-related crimes....

"Tuesday’s judgment striking down the law was not unanimous. The majority on the court found that imposing stiff new penitentiary sentences for weapons-related offences will not, in most cases, violate the Charter. In fact, in the two specific weapons-related cases being heard on appeal, it found the sentencing regime was appropriate in each and upheld them." 

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