Dangerous Offender Status (Part 2 of 4)

Supreme Court Hearings

Dangerous Offender Status (Part 2 of 4)

The court hears arguments in a joint hearing, held on January 16, 2003, of case #28945, The Queen (R.) v. Jerimiah-Josia Johnson; case #28946, R. v. Daniel George Edgar; case #29043, R. v. Stewart James Smith; case #29083, R. v. Steven Keith Mitchell; and case #29140, R. v. Michael Edward Kelly. Each case involves an appeal against a sentencing judge’s decision to declare an offender dangerous and sentence him to an indeterminate period of detention.

Prior to 1997, a judge could declare an offender dangerous, with the possibility of him or her being subject to an indefinite sentence and with specific provisions for parole hearings. Changes made to the Criminal Code in 1997 introduced the possibility of designating a person a long-term offender. Long-term offender status does not allow judges to impose indeterminate sentences. In all of the cases before the Supreme Court in this instance, all of the individuals had been declared dangerous offenders in trials taking place after the 1997 Criminal Code amendments, but for crimes committed prior to 1997. The Court must decide if judges have a duty to consider the long-term offender designation prior to declaring an offender dangerous, and if this duty holds regardless of when the crime was committed.

Lawyer William F. Ehrcke presents arguments on behalf of the Crown, responding to questions from Supreme Court justices Louise Arbour, Charles Gonthier, and Beverley McLachlin.

Lawyer Beverly MacLean presents arguments on behalf of the Crown.