The BCCLA is intervening in this case at the Supreme Court of Canada, which deals with the fine in lieu of forfeiture provisions of the Criminal Code. These laws trigger significant additional jail time – on top of the sentence imposed – for offenders who are not able to forfeit money that was obtained by crime because the money is no longer available.
Should the laws apply in a situation where an accused has obtained the court’s permission to use money seized by police to pay for a lawyer? The BCCLA will argue that this interpretation of the law leads to an unfair result: many offenders who have chosen to be represented by counsel will face extra jail time, because the money can’t be paid back. Important rights such as the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial are at stake – people charged with criminal offences should not be pressured to go without a lawyer out of fear that they will face a longer sentence if the money seized is used to pay for legal fees.
The case is set to be argued in the Supreme Court on January 25, 2019.
The BCCLA’s intervener factum can be found here.