OTTAWA – Defence lawyers say mandatory victim surcharges being imposed on destitute offenders are destined for the Supreme Court of Canada as fierce legal battles play out in lower courts in British Columbia and Ontario.
The latest skirmish is taking place in B.C.’s provincial court, where the Crown is expected to argue next month that the surcharge is a reasonable limitation of a homeless offender’s Charter rights.
Trial judge Donna Senniw has already determined the man’s rights, outlined under sections 7 and 12, were violated.
Many judges across the country felt the mandatory surcharge removed their sentencing discretion and some tried to find ways to circumvent the surcharge, such as setting lengthy payment schedules.
“The response we have seen from the judiciary has been exceptional,” said Ottawa criminal lawyer Michael Spratt.
“The reason why the judges, I think, are finding creative ways to try and bring fairness back into the system is because these are the people who hear and see the homeless individual who has no money, who is faced with what can be, for them, a back-breaking fine for minor offences.”
Read Kirsty Kirkup‘s full article: Canadian Press