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Bill S-251

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First Session, Forty-second Parliament,
64-65-66-67 Elizabeth II, 2015-2016-2017-2018
SENATE OF CANADA
BILL S-251
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (independence of the judiciary) and to make related amendments
FIRST READING, May 29, 2018
THE HONOURABLE SENATOR Pate
4211710


SUMMARY
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to give a court the discretion to vary the punishment to be imposed in respect of an offence for which the punishment or different degrees or kinds of punishment is prescribed in an enactment.
It allows a court to decide to not make a mandatory prohibition order provided for under a provision of that Act, or to add conditions or vary any of the conditions set out in that provision, if the court considers it just and reasonable to do so. It requires the court to provide its reasons for making such a decision.
It requires a court to consider all available options prior to imposing a minimum punishment of imprisonment or period of parole ineligibility under a provision of that Act, and to provide written reasons for imposing a minimum punishment of imprisonment or period of parole ineligibility.
It gives a court discretion in the treatment or counselling program that a person who has been found guilty of an offence may attend and removes the requirement for the Attorney General to give his or her consent in order to delay sentencing under subsection 720(2) of that Act.
It further provides that a court may order the payment of a victim surcharge in an amount lower than that set out in subsection 737(2) of that Act or order that no victim surcharge be imposed if the court considers it appropriate in the circumstances and is satisfied that the amount set out in that subsection cannot be paid. It requires the court to provide its reasons for making such an order.
It provides that a judge is to take into consideration the recommendation of the jury in setting the period of parole ineligibility of a person who has been found guilty of first or second degree murder.
Lastly, it makes related amendments.
Available on the Senate of Canada website at the following address:
www.sencanada.ca/en


1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
64-65-66-67 Elizabeth II, 2015-2016-2017-2018
SENATE OF CANADA
BILL S-251
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (independence of the judiciary) and to make related amendments
Preamble
Whereas it is a fundamental principle that a sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the person being sentenced;
Whereas without the possibility of judicial discretion to depart from a minimum punishment a disproportionate sentence may result;
Whereas a disproportionate sentence has the potential to exacerbate inequality, including in contravention of the equality rights under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
Whereas judicial discretion to depart from a minimum punishment is necessary to prevent a miscarriage of justice, including but not limited to a wrongful guilty plea, and to ensure a just and appropriate sentence;
Whereas judicial discretion to depart from a minimum punishment is especially necessary when sentencing women who may face unique pressures to plead guilty, particularly those whose criminalization is a response to violent victimization;
Whereas judicial discretion to depart from a minimum punishment is necessary to prevent exacerbating the systemic over-incarceration of Indigenous Peoples and to give effect to paragraph 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code;
Whereas judicial discretion to depart from a minimum punishment is necessary to craft proportionate sentences for individuals with mental disabilities who are vastly overrepresented in Canadian prisons;
And whereas disproportionate sentences undermine public confidence in the administration of justice;
R.‍S.‍, c. C-46
Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Criminal Code

1Subsections 718.3(1) and (2) of the Criminal Code are replaced by the following:
Degrees of punishment
718.3(1)If an enactment prescribes different degrees or kinds of punishment in respect of an offence, the punishment to be imposed is, despite the limitations prescribed in the enactment, in the discretion of the court that convicts a person who commits the offence.
Discretion respecting punishment
(2)If an enactment prescribes a punishment in respect of an offence, the punishment to be imposed is, despite the limitations prescribed in the enactment, including a punishment declared to be a minimum punishment, in the discretion of the court that convicts a person who commits the offence.
2The Act is amended by adding the following after section 718.3:
Change to mandatory prohibition order
718.4(1)If a court is required to make a prohibition order under a provision of this Act, it may decide to not make that order, add conditions or vary any of the conditions set out in that provision, including the period of the prohibition, if the court considers it just and reasonable to do so.
Reasons
(2)The court shall include in the record a statement of the reasons for making a decision under subsection (1).
Minimum punishment or parole ineligibility
718.5(1)A court shall, prior to imposing a minimum punishment of imprisonment or period of parole ineligibility under a provision of this Act,
(a)consider all available options, other than the minimum punishment of imprisonment or period of parole ineligibility; and
(b)determine that there is no alternative to the minimum punishment of imprisonment or period of parole ineligibility that is just and reasonable.
Written reasons
(2)The court shall provide written reasons for imposing a minimum punishment of imprisonment or period of parole ineligibility under a provision of this Act.
3Subsection 720(2) of the Act is replaced by the following:
Court-supervised programs
(2)The court may, with the consent of the person who has been found guilty and after considering the interests of justice and of any victim of the offence, delay sentencing to enable the person who has been found guilty to attend, under the supervision of the court, a treatment or counselling program that the court considers appropriate in the circumstances.
4Section 737 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (3):
Decrease in surcharge or no surcharge
(3.1)Despite subsections (1) and (2), the court may order the payment of a victim surcharge in an amount lower than the amount set out in subsection (2) or order that no victim surcharge be imposed if the court considers it appropriate in the circumstances and is satisfied that the amount set out in subsection (2) cannot be paid.
Reasons
(3.2)The court shall include in the record a statement of the reasons for making an order under subsection (3.1).
5Section 745.2 Act is replaced by the following:
Recommendation by jury
745.2Subject to section 745.3, if a jury finds an accused guilty of first degree murder or second degree murder, the judge presiding at the trial shall, before discharging the jury, put to them the following question:
You have found the accused guilty of first degree murder (or second degree murder) and the law requires that I now pronounce a sentence of imprisonment for life against the accused. Do you wish to make any recommendation with respect to the number of years that the accused must serve before the accused is eligible for release on parole? You are not required to make any recommendation but if you do, your recommendation will be considered by me when I am determining whether I should substitute for the twenty-five year period (or for the ten year period), which the law would otherwise require the accused to serve before the accused is eligible to be considered for release on parole, another period of time.

Related Amendments

Bill C-28
6Bill C-28, introduced in the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament and entitled An Act to amend the Criminal Code (victim surcharge), is repealed on the day on which it receives royal assent.
Bill C-45
7On the first day on which Bill C-45, introduced in the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament and entitled An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts, has received royal assent and this Act is in force, section 190 of that Act is repealed.
Bill C-75
8On the day on which Bill C-75, introduced in the 1st session of the 42nd Parliament and entitled An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, receives royal assent, section 304 and subsection 404(4) of that Act are repealed.
Published under authority of the Senate of Canada



explanatory notes

Criminal Code
Clause 1:Existing text of subsections 718.3(1) and (2):
718.3(1)Where an enactment prescribes different degrees or kinds of punishment in respect of an offence, the punishment to be imposed is, subject to the limitations prescribed in the enactment, in the discretion of the court that convicts a person who commits the offence.
(2)Where an enactment prescribes a punishment in respect of an offence, the punishment to be imposed is, subject to the limitations prescribed in the enactment, in the discretion of the court that convicts a person who commits the offence, but no punishment is a minimum punishment unless it is declared to be a minimum punishment.
Clause 2:New.
Clause 3:Existing text of subsection 720(2):
(2)The court may, with the consent of the Attorney General and the offender and after considering the interests of justice and of any victim of the offence, delay sentencing to enable the offender to attend a treatment program approved by the province under the supervision of the court, such as an addiction treatment program or a domestic violence counselling program.
Clause 4:New.
Clause 5:Existing text of section 745.2:
745.2Subject to section 745.3, where a jury finds an accused guilty of second degree murder, the judge presiding at the trial shall, before discharging the jury, put to them the following question:
You have found the accused guilty of second degree murder and the law requires that I now pronounce a sentence of imprisonment for life against the accused. Do you wish to make any recommendation with respect to the number of years that the accused must serve before the accused is eligible for release on parole? You are not required to make any recommendation but if you do, your recommendation will be considered by me when I am determining whether I should substitute for the ten year period, which the law would otherwise require the accused to serve before the accused is eligible to be considered for release on parole, a number of years that is more than ten but not more than twenty-five.

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