These two cases consider the ability of a trial judge to grant an offender enhanced credit for the time he or she spends in custody between conviction and sentencing.
Until 2009, judges would commonly grant an offender credit of 2 days for every 1 day spent in custody between the date of conviction and the date of sentence. Judges would grant this enhanced credit because time in pre-sentence custody does not count toward parole eligibility and generally affords an offender less access to educational and rehabilitative programs that will assist with reintegration into the community.
In 2009, Parliament passed the Truth in Sentencing Act. The Act reduced the amount of enhanced credit a trial judge could grant to a maximum of 1.5 days. These cases consider the proper interpretation of that law and the circumstances in which a trial judge should grant the maximum credit allowed under Act.
The Crown argues that judges should not grant the maximum 1.5 days of credit unless there are circumstances unique to the offender that justify enhanced credit. Circumstances that are systematic or universal to offenders (such as the conditions of custody or parole eligibility) should not be considered.
The BCCLA argues that the Truth in Sentencing Act should be interpreted in accordance with the values and principles developed in sentencing case law. In particular, the proper interpretation of the Act should be sensitive to the liberty interests at stake and should be aimed at determining a fit sentence that is proportionate to the offence and offender. The BCCLA argues that the proper interpretation of the Act would permit a sentencing judge to consider both individualized and systematic factors in determining whether to grant the maximum 1.5 days of enhanced credit.
The BCCLA is represented by Ryan Dalziel and Anne Amos-Stewart of Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP.
Supreme Court of Canada.