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Tom Rees | Criminal Defence Lawyer Winnipeg

Parity at Sentencing


After someone has plead or been found guilty, the judge must impose a fit and appropriate sentence. It has often been said that sentencing is more an art than a science and that is because each case is unique. There are also many different factors a judge must consider when sentencing someone. There is a fundamental purpose of sentencing, objectives of sentencing, aggravating factors, mitigating factors, and then other sentencing principles.

One of these other sentencing principles is called parity. The Criminal Code describes this principle in section 718.2(b):

A sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances.

This principle is used most often when two individuals are charged together for committing the same crime and one has already been sentenced. However, in order to properly apply this principle, a sentencing judge must be properly informed about the circumstances of the first person that was sentenced.  The Court of Appeal in Manitoba commented on this principle in R. v. Sharpe (K.D.), 2009 MBCA 50 at paragraph 38:

Indeed, whenever a parity argument is being advanced by counsel on a sentence hearing, the sentencing judge should have full particulars as to the circumstances of the offence and the offender with whose sentence parity is being sought.

Sentencing is a complex process and parity is but one part of it. If you have further questions or concerns about sentencing, you should speak with Michael Dyck who can explain this complicated process and how it would apply in your case.

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