Department of Justice Canada

Department of Justice Canada

June 15, 2009 15:48 ET

Department of Justice Canada: Legislation Introduced to End Conditional Sentences for Serious Property and Violent Crime

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 15, 2009) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today introduced in the House of Commons proposed legislation that would amend the Criminal Code to further restrict the use of conditional sentencing for serious property and violent crime.

"These amendments show that the government has remained firm in its determination to make sure that those who commit serious crimes serve time behind bars," said Minister Nicholson. "We want to make it clear that conditional sentences will no longer be available to criminals who commit serious crimes."

These reforms will add new requirements to further restrict when a conditional sentence can be imposed. Conditional sentences will no longer be an option for individuals convicted of:

- any offence for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of 14 years or life;

- any offence prosecuted by indictment and for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years that results in bodily harm, involves the import/export, trafficking or production of drugs OR involves the use of a weapon;

- a listed offence prosecuted by indictment and for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years.

Crimes such as theft over $5,000, auto theft (proposed by Bill C-26 currently before Parliament), breaking and entering and arson are included on the list of indictable offences that will be ineligible for a conditional sentence.

A conditional sentence is a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years that may be served in the community. They are only available when certain requirements are met. For example, if the offence calls for a mandatory jail sentence or if the court imposes a sentence of more than two years, a conditional sentence would not be possible.

"The government is introducing these amendments in support of our key commitment to take action against crime," concluded Minister Nicholson.

An online version of the legislation will be available at www.parl.gc.ca.


CONDITIONAL SENTENCING REFORM

As part of its commitment to taking tough action against crime, the Government of Canada has introduced legislation that would restrict the use of conditional sentences, which often includes house arrest - for serious offences. A conditional sentence is a sentence of imprisonment that may be served in the community, provided several pre-conditions are met.

The amendments will remove the reference to Serious Personal Injury Offence in the Criminal Code and instead make it clear that conditional sentences are not available when the offence is prosecuted by indictment, the law prescribes a maximum sentence of 10 years for that offence and the offence results in bodily harm, involves the import/export, trafficking and production of drugs, OR involves the use of a weapon.

Making Sure Those Who Commit Serious Crimes Serve Time in Jail

The changes being proposed to the Criminal Code in this bill would add new pre-conditions to ensure that conditional sentences are not available to individuals who commit serious crimes.

The proposed reforms would further restrict and ban the use of conditional sentences for the offences listed below.

- Offences for which the law prescribes a maximum sentence of 14 years or life.

- Offences prosecuted by indictment and for which the law prescribes a maximum sentence of imprisonment of 10 years that

- result in bodily harm

- involve the import/export, trafficking and production of drugs

- involve the use of weapons.

- Offences specified below when prosecuted by indictment.

- Prison breach

- Luring a child

- Criminal harassment

- Sexual assault

- Kidnapping, forcible confinement

- Trafficking in persons - material benefit

- Abduction

- Theft over $5000

- Auto theft

- Breaking and entering with intent

- Being unlawfully in a dwelling-house

- Arson for fraudulent purpose.

The Current Law

Currently, in order for the courts to impose a conditional sentence:

- the offence must not be punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence

- the court must impose a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years

- the court must be satisfied that service of the sentence in the community will not endanger the safety of the community

- the court must be satisfied that a conditional sentence would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing

- the offence is not

- a serious personal injury offence

- a terrorism offence

- a criminal organization offence.

Version francaise disponible.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Justice
    Darren Eke
    Press Secretary
    613-992-4621
    or
    Department of Justice Canada
    Media Relations
    613-957-4207
    www.canada.justice.gc.ca