Department of Justice Canada



Department of Justice Canada

November 20, 2012 07:00 ET

New Law Eliminating House Arrest for Serious and Violent Crimes Comes Into Force

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2012) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announced today amendments that eliminate conditional sentences for serious and violent crimes - the final component of the Safe Streets and Communities Act - have come into force.

"Our Government has a strong record of putting victims first, getting tough on serious and violent offenders, and keeping our streets and communities safe," said Minister Nicholson. "House arrest should not be available for offenders of serious crimes like sexual assault, kidnapping, and human trafficking. Those who commit these violent crimes must serve their time behind bars, not in the comfort of their homes and that is exactly the issue this legislation corrects."

The Criminal Code outlines the circumstances when a conditional sentence can be imposed. The amendments in this component of Safe Streets and Communities Act maintain these conditions and expand the list describing when a conditional sentence is not available, including:

  • Any offence for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of 14 years or life imprisonment;
  • Any offence prosecuted by indictment and for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment that results in bodily harm, involves the import/export, trafficking or production of drugs or involves the use of a weapon; and,
  • A listed offence prosecuted by indictment and for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment - which means that crimes such as theft over $5,000, breaking and entering, and theft of a motor vehicle are now included on the list of indictable offences ineligible for a conditional sentence.

The Government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act on September 20, 2011, fulfilling its commitment to expeditiously introduce several law-and-order bills aimed at combating crime and terrorism. The Safe Streets and Communities Act received Royal Assent on March 13, 2012.

An online version of the legislation can be found at www.parl.gc.ca.

(Version française disponible)

Backgrounder

Safe Streets & Communities Act:

Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes

Safe Streets and Communities Act

The Government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act on September 20, 2011, fulfilling its commitment to "move quickly to re-introduce comprehensive law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism." The Safe Streets and Communities Act received Royal Assent on March 13, 2012. The criminal law amendments in this legislation will make communities safer by:

  • helping improve the safety of all Canadians and, in particular, extending greater protection to the most vulnerable members of society; and,
  • further enhancing the ability of Canada's justice system to hold offenders accountable for their actions.

Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes

As part of its commitment to hold criminals accountable and ensure the safety and security of Canadians, the Government introduced comprehensive legislation which includes reforms to the Criminal Code designed to restrict the use of conditional sentences. A conditional sentence is a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years that may be served in the community - for example, under house arrest - provided certain conditions are met.

A conditional sentence can be imposed only if:

  • the offence does not carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence;
  • the court imposes a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years;
  • the court is satisfied that serving the sentence in the community will not endanger the safety of the community; and
  • the court is satisfied that the sentence would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing.

Conditional sentences cannot be imposed for the following categories (or types) of indictable offences that are punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment or more:

  • a serious personal injury offence (as defined in section 752);
  • a terrorism offence; and
  • a criminal organization offence.

The Safe Streets & Communities Act maintains these conditions and expands the list of offences for which conditional sentences are no longer be available.

The list of offences for which conditional sentences will not be available is as follows:

  • offences for which the law prescribes a maximum sentence of 14 years or life imprisonment, including: manslaughter, aggravated assault, arson and fraud over $5,000.
  • 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; or
    • involve the use of weapons; and,
  • the following offences when prosecuted by indictment:

    • prison breach
    • criminal harassment
    • sexual assault
    • kidnapping
    • trafficking in persons
    • abduction of persons under 14 (i.e., by a stranger)
    • theft over $5,000
    • motor vehicle theft
    • breaking and entering a place other than a dwelling-house
    • being unlawfully in a dwelling-house
    • arson for fraudulent purpose.

Contact Information

  • Julie Di Mambro
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Justice
    613-992-4621

    Department of Justice Canada
    Media Relations
    613-957-4207
    www.canada.justice.gc.ca