The Frequency of a Crime in a Local Community — a Relevant Factor in Sentencing

Local Situation It may be appropriate for a judge to consider the fact that a type of offence occurs with particular frequency in a given region as a relevant factor in determining a just and appropriate sentence. R. v. Lacasse, 2015 SCC 64, [2015] 3 S.C.R. 1089 at para 13.Even though the Criminal Code applies everywhere in the country, local characteristics in a given region may explain certain differences in the sentences imposed on offenders by the courts. In R. v. M. (C.A.), [1996] 1 S.C.R. 500 Lamer C.J. stated the following:The determination of a just and appropriate sentence is a delicate art which attempts to balance carefully the societal goals of sentencing against the moral blameworthiness of the offender and the circumstances of the offence, while at all times taking into account the needs and current conditions of and in the community. [Emphasis added]Considerations of procedural fairness will generally require that a judge who intends to attach weight to the local reality and to the frequency of a crime in a given region offer the parties an opportunity to make representations on the subjectR. v. Lacasse, 2015 SCC 64, [2015] 3 S.C.R. 1089at para 94.The frequency of impaired driving offences, for instance, is something that can be determined objectively by consulting the court rolls. In short, it is public information that is known and uncontroversial. It is well established in our law that judges can take judicial notice of the contexts in which they perform the duties of their offices: R. v. Lacasseat para 95; R. v. Z.Z., 2013 QCCA 1498, at para. 68 (CanLII); R. v. Hernandez, 2009 BCCA 546, 277 B.C.A.C. 120, at para. 29.Trial judges and provincial courts of appeal are in the best position to know