It is a well-established principle of the criminal justice system that judges must strive to impose a sentence tailored to the individual case; this, among other things, includes considering the personal circumstances of the offender.

Violent actions against an offender for his or her role in the commission of an offence — whether by a fellow inmate, or by a vigilante group — necessarily form part of the personal circumstances of that offender and should therefore be taken into account when determining an appropriate sentence.

However, for policy reasons, a sentencing court should only consider this particular collateral consequence to a limited extent:  giving too much weight to vigilante violence at sentencing allows this kind of criminal conduct to gain undue legitimacy in the judicial process.

R. v. Suter, [2018] 2 SCR 496, 2018 SCC 34 (CanLII), at paras. 53, 58.

Stuart O’Connell, O’Connell Law Group (All rights reserved to author).