Sunday, November 26, 2006

Reverse Onus for Gun Crimes

The federal government's proposed new gun crimes legislation would put the burden on serious gun crimes suspects seeking bail to show cause why they should not stay in custody. This is known as "reverse onus".

Usually, it is the other way around, with Crown prosecutors having the burden to show why bail should not be granted.

The Library of Parliament's LEGISInfo service links to the text of the bill, Hansard debates, ministerial backgrounder information and further readings.

Coverage by CTV News provides access to text and video on the announcement.

Last month, federal Justice Minister Vic Toews introduced legislation that would reverse the onus in the case of repeat violent offenders.

In an earlier Library Boy post from January 4, 2006 entitled Reverse Onus in Gun-Related Bail Hearings, I wrote:

"There are already a number of offences enumerated under section 515(6) of the Criminal Code that place the onus on the accused to justify bail. The section lists offences, such as commiting a crime while on bail, as part of a criminal organization, terrorism-related offences, narcotics-related offences, etc."


"On January 2, the Globe and Mail, in an article entitled 'Targeting gun offences presents legal quagmire', quoted various legal experts as saying it is a "total crap shoot" whether reverse onus would survive a constitutional challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."


"Also yesterday, the Toronto Star article 'Lawyers doubt tougher bail rules' included comments from criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby: " '(R)everse onuses don't generally make a lot of difference' because judges tend to take into account the circumstances of the alleged offence and the accused. 'It sounds good, which makes for good politics, but it doesn't make much difference' " (...)"
More on reverse onus and bail conditions can be found on the Canadian Charter of Rights Decisions Digest website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:47 pm


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