Focus On

SENTENCING - Extortion - Imprisonment - Probation - Deterrence - Denunciation - Seriousness of offence

Tuesday, February 06, 2018 @ 8:06 AM  


Lexis Advance® Quicklaw®
Sentencing of Hunt, who pleaded guilty to extortion after he threatened to post nude photographs of his ex-romantic partner on Facebook. Hunt made the threats against the complainant X after she ended their relationship. Hunt told X via text that he would post the material unless she told her friends they had not separated. He also indicated he intended to kill himself. X acquiesced to prevent Hunt from harming himself and from posting the pictures. Hunt was 22 years old and had no prior convictions. He had been raised by his grandmother and had been the victim of severe bullying growing up. The pre-sentence report indicated Hunt had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. X filed a victim impact statement regarding the serious negative emotional impact the situation had had on her. The Crown submitted a period of six months of incarceration should be imposed, followed by probation. Hunt suggested a period of imprisonment of two to four months.

HELD: Hunt sentenced to nine months' imprisonment, followed by two years' probation. Present day access to social media sites had dramatically changed the potential impact of extortion. The modern form of extortion was much different and more serious than older forms. The sentencing for such offences was to reflect the changes in the sharing of information and the impact on victims. General deterrence and denunciation were the primary principles of sentencing applied in the present case. Sentencing precedents for extortion had a range of sentences from suspended sentence to one year of incarceration. This illustrated the serious nature of the offence and the significant nature of the sentences imposed. The sentencing precedents suggested a period of imprisonment in the range of 12 months was appropriate. However, considering Hunt's age, his prospects for rehabilitation and his lack of any prior convictions, an appropriate sentence was imprisonment for nine months, or 270 days. This sentence reflected the seriousness of the offence and the need to stress the principles of deterrence and denunciation. Hunt had been in pre-sentence custody for 160 days, with the standard credit of one and one-half days for every day applicable, for a total reduction of 240 days. Completion of the prison sentence was to be followed by probation for two years. Sentence: Nine months' imprisonment; two years' probation  Criminal Code, s. 346(1).

R. v. Hunt, [2017] N.J. No. 430, Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Court, W. Gorman Prov. Ct. J., December 22, 2017. Digest No. TLD-Feb52018004