Legal Developments: Criminal Code Offences

 

Bill C-10, or the “Crime Omnibus Bill”, which was passed on March 12, 2012, is the single largest overhaul of the Criminal Justice System ever undertaken in Canada. The Bill includes elements of various proposed legislation which did not get passed by the last minority government and several other elements meant to fortify the Canadian Justice system, in the government’s effort “to get tough on crime”. The various components of the Bill focus on punishing offenders, rather than on taking steps to prevent crime.

 

One of the biggest changes brought by the passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill is a toughening of sentencing under the Criminal Code, by:

 

  • Limiting the availability of conditional sentences: Conditional sentences are sentences that are served in the community by an offender. They are commonly known as “house arrest”. Under the new legislation, judges do not have the ability to sentence offenders to house arrest in many circumstances. These circumstances include serious violent and serious property offences.

 

  • New mandatory minimum sentences for many offences and higher mandatory minimum sentences for those offences which already have mandatory minimums. When a person is convicted of an offence which has a mandatory minimum sentence attached to it, this means that no matter what the circumstances of the case and the offender are, that person will be sent to jail for the period of time prescribed by law. This takes more power out of the hands of judges to fashion the most appropriate sentence for the situation at hand. There are no proposed exceptions to allow judges to depart from the mandatory minimum sentences.