Criminal law, Quebec Court of Appeal, Rulings
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Impact of lengthy imprisonment on offender family’s is a mitigating factor

In a case that provided the Quebec Court of Appeal with an “opportunity to address the extent to which the detrimental impact of a lengthy term of imprisonment on the offender’s family can operate as a mitigating factor in the sentencing process,” the appellate court dismissed an appeal by the Crown over a sentence handed to a man found guilty of two counts of sexual interference on his 12-year old daughter and her friend.

Keen on dispelling the Crown’s contention that the sentence of 90 days’ imprisonment sentence to be served intermittently was lenient and demonstrably unfit, the Appeal Court reiterated that sentencing ranges are only guidelines, reaffirmed that the objectives of denunciation and deterrence should be given relative precedence, and underlined that the detrimental impact of a lengthy term of imprisonment on the offender’s family can be considered as a mitigating factorin exceptional cases, affirm legal experts.

“It’s an excellent decision,” remarked Hugues Parent, a criminal law professor at the Université de Montréal and author of “Treatise on Criminal Law” which is cited in the decision. “Taking into account the impact of a person’s incarceration on the family can only be done when the sentence respects the principles of proportionality. It is certainly not a predominant factor in all cases, that’s for sure. It is only considered in exceptional cases where the person has a favourable profile.”

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This story was originally published in Law360 Canada.

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