section 721(3)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Section 721(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the information that must be included in a pre-sentence report, including the offenders age, behavior, previous dispositions and alternative measures used.

SECTION WORDING

721(3) Unless otherwise specified by the court, the report must, wherever possible, contain information on the following matters: (a) the offenders age, maturity, character, behaviour, attitude and willingness to make amends; (b) subject to subsection 119(2) of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the history of previous dispositions under the Young Offenders Act, chapter Y-1 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, the history of previous sentences under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and of previous findings of guilt under this Act and any other Act of Parliament; (c) the history of any alternative measures used to deal with the offender, and the offenders response to those measures; and (d) any matter required, by any regulation made under subsection (2), to be included in the report.

EXPLANATION

Section 721(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada sets out the information that must be included in pre-sentence reports, unless otherwise specified by the court. These reports are prepared by probation officers and other court officials and are used by judges to determine an appropriate sentence for an offender. The report must contain information on the offender's age, maturity, character, behavior, attitude, and willingness to make amends. This information helps the judge to understand the offender's personal circumstances, level of responsibility, and potential for rehabilitation. In addition, the report must include the offender's history of previous dispositions and sentences, which means the judge will have access to the offender's prior offenses and sentences. This information assists the judge in determining an appropriate course of action, taking into account the offender's history and whether previous sentences have been effective. The report must also contain information on any alternative measures that have been used to deal with the offender and their response to those measures. Alternative measures aim to address the underlying issues that have contributed to the offender's offending behavior and can include community service, counseling, or restorative justice programs. Finally, any other relevant information required by regulation must also be included in the report. This section ensures that judges have access to all the necessary information when determining an appropriate sentence for an offender. The aim is to move away from punitive measures and towards rehabilitation, which will ultimately reduce recidivism rates and create safer communities for all Canadians.

COMMENTARY

Section 721(3) of the Canadian Criminal Code outlines the required components of a pre-sentence report, which is a tool used by courts to inform their decision-making process in sentencing an offender. The report is meant to provide a comprehensive understanding of the individual being sentenced, including their history, character, and potential for rehabilitation. One of the key factors highlighted in the legislation is the offender's age, maturity, character, behaviour, attitude, and willingness to make amends. This speaks to the importance of considering an individual's personal circumstances and potential for growth and change. The report should aim to provide insight into the offender's motivations and underlying factors that led to their criminal behaviour, as well as their current mindset and level of remorse. The legislation also requires information on the offender's history of previous dispositions and sentences, both under the former Young Offenders Act and the current Youth Criminal Justice Act, as well as prior findings of guilt under any Act of Parliament. This allows the court to consider the individual's past experiences with the criminal justice system, and whether previous interventions have been successful in mitigating their criminal behaviour. In addition, the report must include information on any alternative measures used to deal with the offender and their response to those measures. This speaks to the importance of considering community-based interventions that may be more effective than custodial sentences in reducing recidivism and promoting rehabilitation. By understanding the offender's response to previous interventions, courts can make more informed decisions about what type of sentence will best serve the individual and the community. Finally, the legislation allows for additional information to be included in the report as required by any regulations made under subsection (2). This provision allows for flexibility in adapting to changes in the criminal justice system and the needs of different communities. Overall, Section 721(3) emphasizes the importance of a holistic and individualized approach to sentencing. By requiring comprehensive pre-sentence reports that take into account an individual's personal circumstances, history, and response to previous interventions, the legislation aims to promote the fair and effective use of the criminal justice system. It recognizes that punishment alone is not enough to address the root causes of criminal behaviour and highlights the need for interventions that promote rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

STRATEGY

Section 721(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada mandates that court reports on offenders must contain certain information, including their age, history of previous dispositions or sentences, response to alternative measures, and any other information specified by regulations. Strategic considerations when dealing with this section of the Criminal Code of Canada will vary depending on the specific case and the goals of the prosecution or defense, but some potential strategies are discussed below. One strategy for the prosecution may be to emphasize the offender's history of previous dispositions or sentences. By highlighting any previous criminal activity and the response of the justice system, the prosecution can argue that stricter penalties are necessary to deter further criminal behavior. Alternatively, the defense may emphasize the offender's willingness to make amends and positive behavior since the last offense. By highlighting these aspects of the offender's character, the defense can argue for a more lenient sentence or alternative measures. Another strategic consideration is the selection of the person who will prepare the report. Section 721(2) specifies that the court may order a report to be prepared by a probation officer or any other person designated by the court. Therefore, it can be strategic for the prosecution or defense to suggest or object to a specific person to prepare the report. For example, the defense may argue that a report prepared by a mental health expert would be more objective and beneficial to the offender than one prepared by a probation officer. Additionally, the language of the report itself can also be a strategic consideration. The report should present the information in a neutral and factual manner, but the way it's presented can have an impact on the judge's decision. For example, if the report focuses solely on the offender's criminal history without highlighting any positive aspects of their character, the judge may be more inclined to impose a harsher sentence. On the other hand, if the report emphasizes positive aspects of the offender's character and their potential for rehabilitation, the judge may be more inclined to impose a more lenient sentence or alternative measures. Lastly, understanding the regulations that apply to the case can be crucial. Section 721(3)(d) mandates that the report include any information required by regulations made under subsection (2). Depending on the case, there may be specific regulations that apply and provide additional information that can be strategically used by the prosecution or defense. For example, if the offender is a youth, information about the offender's family background and social context could be provided under subsection 119(2) of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which may be valuable in discussing the appropriate sentence or alternative measures. In conclusion, Section 721(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines certain requirements for court reports on offenders. Strategic considerations when dealing with this section of the Code will depend on the specific case and goals of the prosecution or defense, but some strategies that could be employed include emphasizing the offender's character and history, selecting the person who will prepare the report, focusing on positive aspects of the offender's character, and understanding any applicable regulations.