SCC to rule on whether threat of deportation should play role in criminal sentencing

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Ottawa – On Thursday, March 14, the Supreme Court of Canada will release its decision in R. v. Pham. This case deals with the question of what factors a court should consider when crafting a just and fair criminal sentence. Under immigration law, criminal sentences of a certain length trigger additional immigration consequences for non-citizens, including the potential for deportation.

Mr. Pham has lived in Canada since he immigrated as a teenager. He was sentenced to two years in prison for production and possession of marijuana for the purposes of trafficking in connection with a grow op in the basement of the residence where he lived. Mr. Pham’s sentence made him eligible for immediate deportation and stripped away his right to appeal the removal order. The government agreed to reduce the sentence requested by one day to help avoid this result, however, the Alberta Court of Appeal refused to modify Mr. Pham’s sentence. As a consequence, a removal order was issued against Mr. Pham, turning his two-year sentence into deportation from Canada.

The BCCLA has long been concerned about fairness in sentencing, and believes that criminal justice can only be served if the punishment fits the crime. A sentence can only be fair if all the penal consequences are taken into account by the sentencing judge. The BCCLA is an intervener in this case and argued that immigration consequences, such as those faced by Mr. Pham, must be part of the judge’s consideration when determining a just and fit criminal sentence.

The BCCLA is represented by Lorne Waldman of Lorne Waldman & Associates.

The BCCLA’s argument in the case is available here >>

What: Supreme Court of Canada will deliver its decision in R. v. Pham

When: Reasons for judgment will be delivered on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 6:45 am PST / 9:45 am EST.

Where: Supreme Court of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario)

Who: BCCLA representative available for comment