Thursday, October 12, 2006

Reverse Onus for Dangerous Offenders

The Conservative government is apparently planning on introducing legislation that will reverse the onus on dangerous offender status for those convicted of three sexual or violent crimes. Up until now, the onus has been on the Crown to prove that someone should be declared a dangerous offender. Now, people convicted of three crimes in these categories will automatically be assumed to be dangerous offenders (with all that implies, including lengthier prison terms and seven years of parole ineligibility).

Now, we have that pesky notion in our legal system about being assumed innocnt until proven guilty, and I happen to think it's a good one. I think that ought to apply here too. Unfortunately, I don't think that a Charter challenge here will be successful (although similar reverse onus provisions have been struct down on Charter grounds). So my guess is that it will be up to opposition parties to stop this legislation in the political arena.

It seems to me that there are two classes of people who have committed three violent or sexual crimes: those who truly are dangerous offenders, and those who have had major extenuating circumstances and really are unlikely to reoffend. For the first class, even without this reverse onus provision, they're likely to be declared dangerous offenders as is right now. For the second class, however, they should not be considered dangerous offenders, and thus the onus should not be on them to prove that they are not dangerous offenders.

Anyways, that's my quick ramble. I think this proposal is relatively unjust and entirely pointless. Mandatory minimums I'm down with. Gun controls I'm down with. This I'm not. This will do absolutely nothing to stem violent or sexual crimes.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kyle Carruthers said...

"Innocent until proven guilty" is still alive and well under this proposal. Its not until you have been "proven guilty" of your third violent offence that the reverse onus arises. I believe that any individual has committed their THIRD violent offence (and thats just those offences where they get caught) is pretty clearly dangerous, and the shifted onus is justifiable. When someone has a criminal record that long the facts speak for themselves--the person is a dangerous offender. If that person has some reason why we should think otherwise they should show why.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Anonymous Liberal said...

No, the facts don't speak for themselves. If the facts in a certain situation DO speak for themselves, then the Crown can already get violent offender status applied to that individual.

And, no, innocent until proven guilty is not alive under this proposal. When you convict someone of that third offence, you are convicting them of that third offense, for which they have been found guilty. You cannot presume simply based on the commission of those three offenses that that person is a dangerous offender.

Moreover, that third trial involved the question of whether that person actually was guilty of the third crime; it was NOT a trial of whether they were a dangerous offender. Ergo, it's goes completely in the face of the above principle to have a trial about a specific crime and then, because of that, automatically put the onus on the accused to prove that he is not a dangerous offender, when the state has never proven that he is.

Once again, I ask, why is the onus as it currently is a problem? If the facts do prove that someone IS a dangerous offender, we apply that status, and that happens all the time in the status quo. Why should we infringe such a fundamental principle of justice for absolutely no gain?

11:39 PM  
Blogger WalkingHeart said...

Sorry there pal, Once again Mr. Harper is right, Liberals looks at the rights of criminals over victims. I speak from personal experience and that I may have terrorizing people by setting fires in back alleys and burning down abandoned houses. Here the clincher, Liberal laws seem to favor and coddle sex-offenders and protect these people. I served many years in both 7 Provincial Jails and 6 Federal Penitentiaries in a good 10 year period from 1991-2001. I served a good 8 1/2 years in lock-up but it was only there in our fine 4 star prisons did I realize that other ex-cons are getting out and joining gangs and shooting up places and innocent. I back the Conservative Government Laws. They kept their promises. I was put out of a criminal career for good thanks to this Dangerous Offender law. I was going after a couple sex offenders at a hotel(Laws that give them carte blanche in prison) by burning them in it. I hope Stephen Dion commits political suicide and bring Harper into a majority. No more passive laws and time to bring Conservatism back to Canada's roots.

6:23 PM  

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