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


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)


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


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


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.


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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