Is Canada’s bail system about to get stricter?
In a proactive effort to enhance community safety and restore public trust in the administration of criminal justice, the Government of Canada recently introduced Bill C-48. This proposed legislation is believed to be an extended arm of Bill C-75 and aims to reform the country’s bail system, specifically addressing serious repeat violent offences involving weapons and the heightened risks associated with Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Moreover, one of the key highlights of this bill is the reverse onus provision. To better understand the implications of the proposed legislation, it’s important to put forth the legal meaning of the reverse onus provision.
If you or someone you know has been affected by the bail process, this blog will provide valuable insights into how the proposed changes brought forth by Bill C-48 can impact your bail decision.
What does reverse onus refer to in the bail system?
In the context of the bail system, reverse onus refers to a situation where the burden of proof shifts from the prosecution to the accused. In simpler words, instead of the prosecution demonstrating why an accused person should be detained, the presumption is that the accused will have to prove to the court the reasons for their release.
The intention behind reverse onus is to prioritize public safety and address concerns regarding repeat offenders or individuals involved in violent offences. However, it can have a relatively negative impact on the rights of the accused as well as the criminal justice system as a whole in the light of the fact that innocent until proven guilty is the fundamental principle of the criminal justice system. Other alarming factors associated with reverse onus cases are the potential chances of increased pending trials and prolonged periods of pre-trial detention of the accused.
How does Bill C-48 seek to target serious repeat violent offenders charged with offences involving weapons?
With a new reverse onus provision for individuals charged with serious offences involving violence and the use of weapons, the proposed legislation places the burden of proof on the accused to demonstrate why they should be released on bail. By doing so, it ensures that individuals with a history of violent offences involving weapons face greater scrutiny during the bail process, ultimately aiming to enhance public safety and prevent potential harm.
What firearms offences trigger a reverse onus under the proposed bill?
This proposed Bill expands the list of firearms offences that trigger a reverse onus at the bail stage. This expansion targets individuals charged with the following offences:
- unlawful possession of loaded prohibited or restricted firearms
- breaking and entering to steal a firearm
- robbery to steal a firearm
- making an automatic firearm.
How does Bill C-48 broaden the reverse onus for repeat offenders of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)?
Recognizing the urgency of addressing intimate partner violence, this bill broadens the existing reverse onus provision. This expansion now applies to repeat offenders of IPV, including those with prior convictions or discharges related to IPV offences. By placing a higher burden on accused individuals, this provision aims to enhance victim safety, accountability, and deterrence in cases of intimate partner violence.
What does the clarification of “prohibition order” mean for offences involving weapons?
By expanding the ambit of “prohibition order” to include a release order for bail, it aims to ensure that individuals who violate their bail conditions related to firearms or specific weapons are subject to the reverse onus provision. For instance, if someone is charged with a crime involving firearms or certain other weapons, and they were already prohibited from having those firearms or weapons due to a court-ordered release condition, the reverse onus provision would apply.
Does Bill C-48 take into account an accused person’s history of convictions?
Yes, the bill requires that courts take into account the individual’s past record of violent offences, providing a more holistic assessment of the potential risks posed by the accused. This will ensure the bail decision-making process is more informed, ultimately safeguarding the public.
In the face of evolving legislation and proposed changes to the bail system, it is crucial to have experienced legal representation by your side. Shory Law is committed to providing comprehensive and effective defence strategies to protect your rights. If you or someone you know requires assistance with the bail process or any legal matters related to criminal charges, contact us today for support and expert guidance because your future and your rights deserve the best defence possible.