In order for Canada’s laws and regulations to keep representing its citizen’s best interests, provisions and definitions must sometimes be adapted. Here are some laws regarding house arrest and self-defence that have undergone changes in recent times.
One area of legislation that the courts have been asking Parliament to address recently is the legislation involving “self-defence,” “defence of others,” and “defence of property.” For a long time, the Canadian Criminal Code had a number of contradictory, overlapping, and complex sections which dictated different tests that could be applied when the accused person in question used force – and possibly even caused injury and death to others – in order to defend themselves or third parties.
Many legal professionals found the legislation difficult to follow and put into practice. In addition, trying to explain said legislation to jury members who were almost always laypersons proved to be very difficult for legal professionals.
However, in 2012 the government repealed and replaced the old provisions with two sections: one that applies to when the accused acts to defend themselves or others, and another that applies when the accused is acting to defend their property. According to the updated legislation, the crucial question is whether the actions of the accused are reasonable in the circumstances of the case. The Criminal Code dictates the factors that should be taken into account, some of which include:
- The nature of the threat to the individual in question
- Whether weapons were involved
- Any difference in size, age, gender, physical abilities or disabilities between the two parties
- The background of any history or relationship between the two parties
- Whether the accused had any other options besides resorting to force
Restrictions on House Arrest
In addition to changes in self-defence provisions, the government has also significantly restricted the use of Conditional Sentence Orders, otherwise known as “house arrest.” This is because these sentences usually held a stipulation requiring that the offender stay inside their own home except for limited reasons such as employment, shopping for groceries once a week, and so on. These Conditional Sentence Orders were made as a potential option to be used in the case of a person who had committed a relatively minor offence for which incarceration was not truly needed.
The decision to send the accused to prison is always at the judge’s discretion, but in many situations where the community would not be put in danger, the accused was given the option of filling out a house arrest sentence as a less severe and more appropriate form of punishment.
Now, the government has removed the option for house arrest for many offences which were previously considered acceptable for it. All violent offences that are indictable are now excluded from having house arrest as an option, in addition to many more drug charges that were previously considered eligible for house arrest.
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