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Lecture 1- May 7.docx

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Nicole Myers

SOC346: Special Topics in Crime and Law- Sentencing in Canada Lecture 1: May 7, 2013 Focus of this course  Current issues in sentencing processes in Canada  Focusing on Canadian context with some international evidence  Sentencing most visible part of criminal justice system and also the most controversial; level of punishment someone is subjected to after they have been convicted  Sentence not punitive enough; unduly lenient  Judges expected to balance competing elements and philosophical purposes; aggravating and mitigating factors that are considered when deciding on a sentence o Still take into account the criminal code  Sentencing relatively unpredictable due to the number of factors that are taken into account  Critical view of sentencing Introduction of Sentencing  Overview of case flow through CJS  Judicial background, training and independence  Sentences in the media  Public opinion  Summary How much work do our lower courts do? (considered work courts of CJS- process all criminal cases)  Difference between charges and case: o Charges- each individual criminal offence of a person (each individual allegation) o Case- i.e. body- one person that has a collection of charges  Top 5 offences being processed in Canada’s courts (any offences contrary to Criminal Code) o Impaired driving (11%) o Theft (10%) o Common assault (9%)- unwanted touch (lowest level of assault) o Failure to comply with a court order (9%)- administration of justice offences (i.e. breaking a curfew when on a bail order) o Break of probation (8%) **these are the types of offences that are “clogging up” our system and using our tax dollars  2010-2011 data: o Total offences: total charges (1,161,018) and total cases (392, 907) o Crime against the person- comprises about 20% of charges that come through the court (means 80% of cases are not violent in nature)  Approximately 24% make up this category while 75% of cases are not violent o Crime against property- i.e. breaking and entering o Administration of justice offences- i.e. breaching curfew, failing to comply o Criminal code traffic offences (impaired driving) o Other federal offences- i.e. drug offences **MOST CASES NOT VIOLENT THAT ARE PROCESSED THROUGH THE COURTS  Time to case disposition: o 2010-2011 media days to disposition was 118 days from first court appearance to last court appearance; number higher than before so it takes longer now to process through the system o Added complexity increased time:  Multiple charges- more charges for failing to comply make cases longer to process  Seriousness of offence- i.e. rape, murder vs. minor offences like assault  Administration of justice  Trials – exercising right to trial more time consuming  Failing to appear- court gets adjourned (i.e. lawyer doesn’t show up)  Case outcomes 2010-2011 o 64% found guilty o 32% stayed, withdrawn, dismissed, discharged- once the Crown has opportunity to look at allegations put together by police, they did not believe there was enough evidence to proceed  Not enough evidence to support conviction then Crown must withdraw  Diversions- cases that are minor and not sent through justice system- include other sanctions such as fines, voluntary work (not worth getting criminal record for minor things) **should these cases be brought into court in the first place?**  125, 730 cases (people) ultimately have things that are withdrawn o 3% acquitted- found not guilty after a trial and evidence has been heard by judge/jury o 1% miscellaneous- people found not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial (severe mental health issues)  Means at time of offence you were under delusions or “out of it” that you had no idea what you were doing (lacks mens rea [intent])  i.e. unmedicated cases of schizophrenia  end up in secure psychiatric facility rath
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