section 2

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The term serious offence is used in many contexts in the Criminal Code. The definition contained at paragraph 2 refers to section 467.1(1), which specifies that a serious offence: means an indictable offence under this or any other Act of Parliament for which the maximum punishment is imprisonment for five years or more, or another offence that is prescribed by regulation. 

SECTION WORDING

2. In this Act, "serious offence" has the same meaning as in subsection 467.1(1);

EXPLANATION

Whether or not a criminal offence is classified as a "serious offence" in the Criminal Code can be a pivotal consideration. As an example, if an offence meets the definition of "serious offence", then pursuant to section 515, if it is shown that the offence was "...committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization" then it places the accused in a reverse-onus bail situation. That is, the accused in such a predicament is to be presumed detained unless defence can show cause why they should be released. Similarly, classification of an offence as a "serious offence" has ramifications under section 462.37, when dealing with forfeiture orders. In situations where it is shown that there is a "pattern" of criminal activity, then the court can impute that property held is the result of criminal activity and thus make an order of forfeiture. Instrumental to this analysis is the question of whether the accused in question has perpetrated "acts or omissions... that constitute at least two serious offences or one criminal organization offence."

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q.

What is the definition of "serious offence" in Canada?

A.

To constitute a "serious offence", the offence must be: (i) an indictable offence; (ii) for which the maximum punishment is imprisonment for five years or more; or (iii) an offence specifically classified as a "serious offence" by a regulation

RELATED CASES

Government regulation SOR/2010-161 which sets out a list of criminal offences deemed to be "serious offences"

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