The Government introduced the Safe Streets and Communities Act on September 20, 2011, fulfilling its commitment to
“move quickly to re-introduce comprehensive law-and-order legislation to combat crime and terrorism.” The Safe Streets and Communities Act received Royal Assent on March 13, 2012. The criminal law amendments in this legislation will make communities safer by:
As part of its commitment to hold criminals accountable and ensure the safety and security of Canadians, the Government introduced comprehensive legislation which includes reforms to the Criminal Code designed to restrict the use of conditional sentences. A conditional sentence is a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years that may be served in the community – for example, under house arrest – provided certain conditions are met.
A conditional sentence can be imposed only if:
- the offence does not carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence;
- the court imposes a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years;
- the court is satisfied that serving the sentence in the community will not endanger the safety of the community; and
- the court is satisfied that the sentence would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing.
Conditional sentences cannot be imposed for the following categories (or types) of indictable offences that are punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment or more:
- a serious personal injury offence (as defined in section 752);
- a terrorism offence; and
- a criminal organization offence.
The Safe Streets & Communities Act maintains these conditions and expands the list of offences for which conditional sentences are no longer be available.
The list of offences for which conditional sentences will not be available is as follows:
- offences for which the law prescribes a maximum sentence of 14 years or life imprisonment, including: manslaughter, aggravated assault, arson and fraud over $5,000.
- offences prosecuted by indictment and for which the law prescribes a maximum sentence of imprisonment of 10 years that:
- result in bodily harm;
- involve the import/export, trafficking and production of drugs; or
- involve the use of weapons; and,
- the following offences when prosecuted by indictment:
- prison breach
- criminal harassment
- sexual assault
- trafficking in persons
- abduction of persons under 14 (i.e., by a stranger)
- theft over $5,000
- motor vehicle theft
- breaking and entering a place other than a dwelling-house
- being unlawfully in a dwelling-house
- arson for fraudulent purpose.
Department of Justice Canada