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PAROLE - Eligibility

Thursday, January 12, 2017 @ 7:00 PM  

Appeal by the federal Crown from a finding that the respondent, Lalonde, was eligible for consideration for early parole. In November 2013, the respondent received a five-year sentence for conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and marijuana. The offences were alleged to have occurred between March and July of 2011. Under the repealed accelerated parole provisions of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), the respondent was eligible for day parole in September 2014. Under the normal parole provisions, he was not eligible for day parole until January 2015. Corrections authorities took the position that s. 10 of the Abolition of Early Parole Act (AEPA) enacted in 2011, rendered the respondent ineligible for accelerated parole. In 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down s. 10 of the AEPA as contrary to s. 11(h) of the Charter. Thereafter, the Ontario Court of Appeal determined that the abolition of eligibility for accelerated parole was an increase in punishment contrary to s. 11(i) of the Charter for offences committed prior to the repeal of the relevant provisions of the CCRA, with sentences imposed afterward. The respondent applied for clarification of his eligibility based on the uncertainty surrounding the date of his offences. He obtained an order that his conspiracies predated repeal of the accelerated provisions. The Crown appealed on the basis that conspiracy was a continuing offence that, in this case, continued beyond the repeal date.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. With continuing offences such as conspiracy, there was a distinction between the point in time in which a crime was committed, and when it was completed or terminated. Criminal culpability attached to the commission of an offence and existed going forward whether or not the offence was a continuing offence. Here, the dates stated in the indictment straddled the repeal date. Whether the respondent entered the alleged conspiracies prior to the repeal date was not addressed at trial. The facts admitted for the purpose of the respondent’s guilty plea and sentencing included reference to acts in furtherance of the cocaine conspiracy prior to the repeal date. On those facts, the respondent committed the offence prior to the repeal date and was therefore entitled to consideration for early parole. The absence of similar clarity in respect of dates associated with the marijuana conspiracy was of no import given the effect of the imposition of concurrent sentences.