Supreme Court clarifies sentencing rules for guilty parties

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OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says a convicted person is entitled to the lesser of two punishments — the one in effect when the offence took place, or the one on the books at the time of sentencing.

However, the guilty party does not have a right to the least severe punishment that was in effect between those two points.

The ruling comes today in the case of Rosaire Poulin, who was convicted in Quebec in 2016 of sexual assault and acts of gross indecency.

A Quebec court said that under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms an accused has a right to the lesser punishment in effect from the time of the offence and sentencing.

As a result, Poulin was sentenced to two years less a day, to be served in the community, for the counts of gross indecency.

The Supreme Court says Poulin, who has since died, was not eligible for the sentence because it did not exist at the time of his offences or at his sentence, only in between these two points.

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