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R. v. M.(C.A.), [1996] 1 S.C.R. 500

Facts:

Accused plead guilty to sexual assault charges, incest and sexual assault w/ weapon. Trial judge gave 25 years/appeal reduced it to 18 yrs 8 months – said should be a ceiling (suggested a 20 year max ceiling for non-life sentences)

Issue(s):

Is there a legal ceiling on fixed term sentences under the Criminal Code? - NO

Ratio:

Sentence = just and appropriate punishment, which is proportional to the overall moral culpability of the offender.
**Must be some connection between length and wrongdoing - proportionality
**Purpose – deterrence, denunciation, retribution, protection of society
***Retribution must be proportional to the offence

Analysis:

Retribution – appropriate punishment, which properly reflects the moral culpability of offender – reflect moral blameworthiness of offender.

Code offers no guidance when determining a sentence beyond 14 years but not at far as life imprisonment. Circumstances where more then 14 year but less then life:
**Offender convicted of single act that carries max life, judge believes life is no warranted by facts, but entitled to sentence beyond 14.
**Offender is convicted of a number of distinct counts in relation to a single offence, or in relation to a set of different offences – judge can sentence consecutively or concurrently.

Totality principle – a judge who orders an offender to serve consecutive sentence for multiple offences must ensure that the cumulative sentence rendered does not exceed the overall culpability of the offender.
**Just and appropriate under the circumstance.
**Must reflect proportionality.

Holding:

It was reasonable for the judge to conclude that in this instance it required 25 years. There is no legal ceiling on fixed terms sentences, up to discretion of the courts.


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