Sunday, October 21, 2012

Library of Parliament Legislative Summary of Bill C-37: Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act

The Library of Parliament has published a legislative summary of Bill C-37: Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act. The bill was referred last week to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights:
"The purpose of the bill is to double victim surcharge amounts and to make them mandatory for all offenders convicted of a criminal offence. In making these amendments, the bill seeks to increase offenders’ accountability to victims of crime.
To achieve this objective, the bill amends:
  • section 737(5) of the Criminal Code (the Code) to eliminate judicial discretion (clause 3(3) of the bill);
  • section 737(2) of the Code to increase the victim surcharge from 15% to 30% of a fine imposed by the court (clause 3(2) of the bill);
  • section 737(2) of the Code to increase the victim surcharge from $50 to $100 for offences punishable by summary conviction if no fine is imposed by the court (clause 3(2) of the bill); and
  • section 737(2) of the Code to increase the victim surcharge from $100 to $200 for offences punishable by indictment if no fine is imposed by the court (clause 3(2) of the bill)."
"The victim surcharge is a financial penalty imposed on convicted offenders at the time of sentencing. It is added to any other penalty imposed by the court when an offender is discharged (section 730 of the Code) or when the offender is convicted of an offence under the Code or under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act."

"Brought into being in 1989, the victim surcharge was created to help fund provincial and territorial victim services. The amount of the victim surcharge is not paid directly to the victim but is placed in a special fund administered by the province or territory where the victim surcharge is imposed. The fund, sometimes called a 'victim assistance fund,' is used to provide services and assistance to all victims of crime rather than to one victim in particular. Though it is not paid directly to the victim, the victim surcharge is considered a mechanism that makes it possible to establish a relationship between the personal accountability of the offender and the victim of the offence."
It is possible to follow the progress of the bill on the LEGISinfo website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:33 pm

1 Comments:

Blogger Jeremy Maddock said...

In theory, restitution for victims is a very important part of sentencing, but its difficult to imagine a more convoluted, ineffective, and potentially unjust way of doing in than what the government has proposed.

Victim surcharges should be meaningful and should be paid directly to victims of crime. Furthermore, crimes that do not have a specific victim (including many offenses under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act) should be specifically exempt from victim surcharges. Requiring victim surcharges on victimless crimes strikes me as very Orwellian.

As far as eliminating judicial discretion, this is always a bad idea. Judges should be given broad discretion to balance factors such as the culpability of the accused and actual harm done to the victim, then craft a just and fitting order for restitution.

5:25 pm  

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