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                                                 SUPREME COURT OF CANADA

 

 

Citation:  R. v. Angelillo, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 728, 2006 SCC 55

 

Date:  20061208

Docket:  30681

 

Between:

Her Majesty The Queen

Appellant

and

Gennaro Angelillo

Respondent

 

Official English Translation: Reasons of Charron J.

 

Coram: McLachlin C.J. and Bastarache, Binnie, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish and Charron JJ.

 

 

Reasons for Judgment:

(paras. 1 to 38)

 

Concurring Reasons:

(paras. 39 to 73)

 

 

Charron J. (McLachlin C.J. and Bastarache, LeBel and Deschamps JJ. concurring)

 

Fish J. (Binnie J. concurring)

 

 

______________________________


R. v. Angelillo, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 728, 2006 SCC 55

 

Her Majesty The Queen                                                                                  Appellant

 

v.

 

Gennaro Angelillo                                                                                         Respondent

 

Indexed as:  R. v. Angelillo

 

Neutral citation:  2006 SCC 55.

 

File No.:  30681.

 

2005:  December 8; 2006:  December 8.

 

Present:  McLachlin C.J. and Bastarache, Binnie, LeBel, Deschamps, Fish and Charron JJ.

 

on appeal from the court of appeal for quebec

 

Criminal law — Sentencing — Consideration of other offences — Accused sentenced to term of imprisonment of two years less day to be served in community — New charges laid against him in relation to new offences committed while he was waiting to be sentenced — Whether court sentencing accused may consider evidence of facts tending to establish commission of another offence in respect of which accused has been charged but not convicted — Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C‑46, ss. 725 , 742.1 .

 


Criminal law — Evidence — Fresh evidence — Due diligence — Evidence not adduced at sentencing hearing because of lack of co‑operation between Crown and police — Whether it is in interests of justice to allow Crown to introduce this fresh evidence on appeal.

 

After pleading guilty to a charge of theft, the accused was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two years less a day to be served in the community and to two years’ probation, and was ordered to pay an amount as restitution.  The Crown introduced motions in the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal, for a stay of sentence and for leave to introduce fresh evidence.  The purpose of the last of these motions was to file evidence establishing the fact that the accused had been charged with two new counts of fraud, both of which were allegedly committed while he was waiting to be sentenced.  The Crown argued that this evidence was not available at trial and that it had acted diligently to produce all the relevant evidence.  In support of this argument, the Crown submitted an affidavit from the prosecutor responsible for the case at trial in which it is alleged that, after the detective sergeant responsible for the case had committed an indiscretion, the prosecutor had told the detective sergeant that her presence at the sentencing hearing would no longer be required and that from then on the prosecutor would be in contact only with the detective sergeant’s supervisor.  Before the hearing, the prosecutor checked the plumitif, in which there was nothing about the accused, but did not contact either the detective sergeant or her supervisor.  Shortly after the sentence was handed down, the detective sergeant told the prosecutor the facts that the Crown is now seeking to introduce as fresh evidence.  The Court of Appeal dismissed the motions.

 

Held:  The appeal should be dismissed.

 


Per McLachlin C.J. and Bastarache, LeBel, Deschamps and Charron JJ.:  Although the fresh evidence is relevant, it is not admissible because the Crown did not act with due diligence.  The conflict between the prosecutor and the detective sergeant explains why the evidence referred to in the motion to introduce fresh evidence was not adduced during the sentencing hearing, but this circumstance does not constitute evidence of due diligence.  The record shows unequivocally that the Crown could have submitted the evidence in question to the trial judge were it not for that breakdown in communication.  It is not in the interests of the administration of justice in the case at bar to condone such a lack of co‑ordination and co‑operation between the Crown and the police. [5] [12] [16]

 


In principle, evidence of facts tending to establish the commission of another offence of which the accused has not been convicted can in certain cases be admitted to enable the court to determine a just and appropriate sentence.  The objectives of sentencing cannot be fully achieved unless the information needed to assess the circumstances, character and reputation of the accused is before the court.  Thus, pursuant to s. 725(1) (b) or (b.1) of the Criminal Code , the court must in determining the sentence consider outstanding charges against the offender, subject to certain conditions.  In addition, s. 725(1) (c) provides that the court may consider any facts forming part of the circumstances of the offence that could constitute the basis for a separate charge.  There may also be evidence relating to one of the sentencing objectives or principles set out in the Criminal Code  that is not covered by s. 725  and that shows that the accused has committed another offence but never been charged with or convicted of it.  Such extrinsic evidence must not automatically be excluded in every case.  Whether it is admissible will depend on the purpose for which its admission is sought: evidence of such acts cannot be adduced for the purpose of obtaining a disproportionate sentence against the accused for the offence in question or of punishing the accused for an offence of which he or she has not been convicted, but can be adduced to shed light on the background and character of the accused.  In the case at bar, since the fresh evidence constituted the basis for outstanding charges for which the accused had not yet stood trial, it could be admitted only in the context of the procedure provided for in s. 725(1) (b) or (b.1), which required, among other things, that the offender’s consent be obtained. [5] [17] [22] [25] [27]

 

Another issue that arose in the case at bar in addition to the general sentencing principles was whether, under s. 742.1 of the Code, the court was satisfied that for the accused to serve his sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community.  The fact that the accused had been charged with two new counts of fraud was a relevant consideration in this determination.  The accused had also chosen to present evidence relating to his character.  Nevertheless, the Crown had not objected to the release of the accused on bail when he appeared in connection with the events the Crown wished to submit as fresh evidence.  If nothing militated against his release at that time, it is hard to conclude that the court was deceived when it imposed a sentence to be served in the community. [34] [36‑37]

 


Per Binnie and Fish JJ.:  The requirements for considering, in the determination of a sentence, other offences for which the offender has been neither tried nor convicted are  set out in s. 725  of the Criminal Code .  Charged but untried offences cannot be considered unless they meet the requirements of s. 725(1) (b) or (b.1).  Accordingly, even if the Crown had proceeded with diligence to introduce facts that were the basis of other charges against the accused, they could not be considered in determining the accused's sentence given that those conditions have not been met in this case.  [42] [46-47]

 

Parliament has also addressed the issue of uncharged offences in s. 725(1)(c) of the Code.  By virtue of that provision, uncharged offences may only be considered if they are based on “facts forming part of the circumstances of the offence” for which the offender is to be sentenced.  To permit a sentencing court to consider uncharged offences even if they are unrelated to the offence charged would not only render s. 725(1) (c) entirely superfluous, but also would remove for these unrelated offences the protection that Parliament has expressly provided for related offences.  Under s. 725(2), offences considered by the sentencing court  pursuant to s. 725(1) (c) cannot form the basis of further proceedings against the offender.  This protects the accused from double punishment.  Moreover, evidence of uncharged offences, an acknowledged aggravating factor, cannot be admitted on the ground that it goes to “background and character” but not to punishment.  Evidence of untried offences introduced by the Crown at the sentencing stage goes to punishment and is introduced for that purpose  either to call for a more severe sentence or to preclude a sentence that is less restrictive.  Since Parliament has chosen not to permit evidence of offences that are uncharged and unrelated, courts should not do so by judicial fiat. [40-41] [49] [51-52] [61] [64] [68]

 


Cases Cited

 

By Charron J.

 

Applied:  Palmer v. The Queen, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 759; R. v. Lévesque, [2000] 2 S.C.R. 487, 2000 SCC 47; considered:  R. v. Edwards (2001), 155 C.C.C. (3d) 473; referred to:  R. v. Warsing, [1998] 3 S.C.R. 579; R. v. M. (P.S.) (1992), 77 C.C.C. (3d) 402; Lees v. The Queen, [1979] 2 S.C.R. 749; R. v. Gardiner, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 368; R. v. Gladue, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 688; R. v. Proulx, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 61, 2000 SCC 5; R. v. Pelletier (1989), 52 C.C.C. (3d) 340; R. v. Larche, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 762, 2006 SCC 56; R. v. Parisien (1971), 3 C.C.C. (2d) 433; R. v. Maheu (1997), 116 C.C.C. (3d) 361.

 

By Fish J.

 

Distinguished:  R. v. Edwards (2001), 155 C.C.C. (3d) 473; Lees v. The Queen, [1979] 2 S.C.R. 749; referred to: Palmer v. The Queen, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 759; R. v. Larche, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 762, 2006 SCC 56.

 

Statutes and Regulations Cited

 

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s. 11 (d), (h).

 

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C‑46, ss. 6 , 334 (a), 687(1) , Part XXIII, 718 to 718.2, 721(1), (3), 723, 724(3)(e), 725, 726.1, 731(1), 732(1), 738, 742.1.

 

Authors Cited

 


Hart, H. L. A.  Punishment and the Elimination of Responsibility.  London:  Athlone Press, 1962.

 

APPEAL from a judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal (Beauregard, Mailhot and Doyon JJ.A.), [2004] Q.J. No. 11670 (QL), affirming a decision of Corte J.C.Q.  Appeal dismissed.

 

Michel Pennou and Dominique Benoît, for the appellant.

 

Robert Delorme and Eliane Hogue, for the respondent.

 

English version of the judgment of McLachlin C.J. and Bastarache, LeBel, Deschamps and Charron JJ. delivered by

 

Charron J. — 

 

1.         Introduction

 

1                                   During sentencing, is it appropriate for the court to consider evidence of facts tending to establish the commission of another offence in respect of which the offender has been charged but not convicted?  If such evidence is admissible in principle, is it in the interests of justice in the instant case to allow the Crown to introduce this fresh evidence on appeal?

 


2                                   After pleading guilty to a charge of theft, Gennaro Angelillo was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two years less a day to be served in the community, subject to his complying with certain conditions that are not in issue in this appeal.  At the time of sentencing, Crown counsel was unaware that Mr. Angelillo was under police investigation once again for incidents that had occurred after his guilty plea and that later led to new charges.  Relying on that evidence, the Crown introduced three motions in the Quebec Court of Appeal in which it sought leave to introduce fresh evidence, leave to appeal the sentence and a stay of sentence.  The Court of Appeal dismissed the motion to introduce fresh evidence, because in its view [translation] “[t]his evidence is not relevant” and because “[t]o accept what the prosecution is proposing would mean accepting that the respondent can be punished more severely for committing an offence of which he might be found not guilty” ([2004] Q.J. No. 11670 (QL), at paras. 6 and 14).  The court also dismissed the other two motions.  The Crown has appealed to this Court.

 

3                                   As was the case in the Court of Appeal, the main issue in this appeal relates to the admissibility of the fresh evidence.  The rules governing admissibility are the same in this Court, and they are well known.  The Court of Appeal had to determine pursuant to s. 687(1)  of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C‑46  (“Cr. C.”), whether it was appropriate to require or receive additional evidence.  According to the rules laid down in Palmer v. The Queen, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 759, and applied in R. v. Lévesque, [2000] 2 S.C.R. 487, 2000 SCC 47, an appellate court should not generally admit evidence if, by due diligence, it could have been adduced at trial — although this general principle is not to be applied as strictly in a criminal case as in civil cases — and should only admit evidence that is relevant and credible and that could reasonably be expected to have affected the result had it been adduced at trial together with the other evidence.

 


4                                   The Crown submits that the Court of Appeal erred in holding that evidence of facts tending to establish the commission of another offence is irrelevant to the determination of the appropriate sentence, regardless of the purpose being pursued, unless the offence in question resulted in a conviction.  The Crown wishes to produce this fresh evidence not to prove that the other offence was committed, but for the sole purpose of establishing Mr. Angelillo’s character — a distinction that was accepted by the Ontario Court of Appeal in R. v. Edwards (2001), 155 C.C.C. (3d) 473, but rejected by the Court of Appeal in the case at bar.  In light of the sentencing submissions, and more particularly of the pre‑sentence report, according to which Mr. Angelillo [translation] “has done some soul‑searching, which seems to be sincere, about his inappropriate behaviour” and his “time in court [has] had a major deterrent effect”, the Crown contends that the fresh evidence easily meets the requirement of relevance.

 

5                                   Although I have concluded that the fresh evidence is relevant and I recognize that, in principle, evidence of facts tending to establish the commission of another offence of which the offender has not been convicted can in certain cases be admitted to enable the court to determine a just and appropriate sentence, I would, for the reasons that follow, dismiss the appeal.  Since the fresh evidence constitutes the basis for outstanding charges against Mr. Angelillo for which he has not yet stood trial, it can be admitted only in the context of the procedure provided for in s. 725(1) (b) or (b.1) Cr. C.  The conditions for that procedure include a requirement that the offender’s consent be obtained.  Furthermore, I feel that the Crown has not shown due diligence.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeal’s decision not to admit the fresh evidence is affirmed and the appeal is dismissed.

 


2.         Facts and Judgments Below

 

2.1       Court of Québec

 

6                                   On January 13, 2003, Mr. Angelillo pleaded guilty in the Court of Québec to a charge of theft over $5,000, contrary to s. 334 (a) Cr. C.  More than 37 times over a period of about a month and a half, Mr. Angelillo, who was employed as a security guard, failed to make deposits his employer had instructed him to make and instead took the money for his own use, thus misappropriating more than $425,000.  He used a large part of that amount to pay debts he had incurred to persons associated with organized crime, who were threatening him and his family.  The police also seized $150,000 during a search of his home.

 

7                                   For reasons that are not apparent from the record, the sentencing hearing was not completed until April 21, 2004, more than 15 months after the guilty plea.  At that time, Judge Corte sentenced Mr. Angelillo to a term of imprisonment of two years less a day to be served in the community followed by two years’ probation, and ordered him to pay $268,430 as restitution under s. 738 Cr. C.  In imposing this sentence, the court accepted the submissions of the defence rather than those of Crown counsel, who had asked for an unconditional three‑year term of imprisonment.

 


8                                   Judge Corte noted that the offender had no criminal record, had pleaded guilty at the start of the proceedings and had expressed remorse, and that the pre‑sentence report was favourable to him.  She also noted that Mr. Angelillo had three jobs at the time and was the sole source of support for his wife and for his three children, who were respectively 15 months, four years and seven years old.  Referring to the pre‑sentence report dated May 15, 2003, the judge added that the offender [translation] “has done some sincere soul‑searching about his inappropriate behaviour [and] has undertaken a rehabilitation process . . . and also counselling”, and that “his time in court has had a major deterrent effect on him”.  The report also stated that Mr. Angelillo was not dangerous and that his risk of re‑offending was low.  Judge Corte noted that there was a special circumstance in Mr. Angelillo’s case, namely that he had stolen because his life and the lives of his family were being threatened by creditors who had ties to organized crime.  There was physical evidence confirming that Mr. Angelillo had been threatened, and this fact was not disputed by the Crown.  Judge Corte therefore concluded that, in this instance, the penological objectives of deterrence and denunciation could be achieved by imposing a conditional sentence with certain conditions restricting Mr. Angelillo’s freedom.

 

2.2       Fresh Evidence

 

9                                   Following that decision, the Crown introduced motions in the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal, for a stay of sentence and for leave to introduce fresh evidence.  Through the last of these motions, the Crown intended to file evidence showing:  (1) that, on August 20, 2003, Mr. Angelillo was arrested at an Insta‑Chèque counter while attempting to cash a forged certified cheque from the National Bank of Canada made payable to him in the amount of $12,000; and (2) that, on January 21, 2004, during a search of Mr. Angelillo’s home, police officers found a National Bank stamp with the words [translation] “certified cheque” on it and a starter kit containing a set of non‑personalized cheques, which came from a National Bank branch where Mr. Angelillo worked as a cleaner.  These allegations were the basis for the new charges against Mr. Angelillo.


 

10                               The Crown argues that this evidence was not available at trial and that it acted diligently to produce all the relevant evidence before Judge Corte.  In support of this argument, the Crown has submitted an affidavit from the prosecutor responsible for the case at trial.  The affidavit states that, in early June 2003, after the detective sergeant responsible for the case had committed an indiscretion by telling Mr. Angelillo the sentence the Crown intended to seek, Crown counsel told the detective sergeant that her presence at the sentencing hearing would no longer be required and that from then on counsel would be in contact only with the detective sergeant’s supervisor.  Before the hearing, counsel checked the plumitif, in which there was nothing about Mr. Angelillo, but did not contact either the detective sergeant or her supervisor.  On April 21, 2004, shortly after Judge Corte handed down her sentence, the detective sergeant ran into counsel at the courthouse by chance and told her the facts that the Crown is now seeking to introduce as fresh evidence.  According to the affidavit of the police officer responsible for the new investigation, the detective sergeant had been aware of this investigation since January 19, 2004.

 

2.3       Court of Appeal

 


11                               The Quebec Court of Appeal (Beauregard, Mailhot and Doyon JJ.A.) dismissed the three motions filed by the Crown because, in the court’s view, the evidence was not relevant.  The court began by stating that, because of the presumption of innocence, the fact that Mr. Angelillo had been charged proved nothing.  It added that, in the present case, what the Crown wished to prove was not that he had been charged with another crime, but that the charge was substantiated.  The court rejected the Crown’s submission that the fresh evidence was admissible as character evidence under the principles stated by Rosenberg J.A. in Edwards.  In the court’s view, it is contrary to the presumption of innocence to consider, in sentencing an accused, facts that could constitute the basis for a separate criminal charge that has not resulted in conviction (para. 11).  The court concluded that taking into account evidence of facts tending to establish that an accused has committed another offence of which he or she has not been convicted amounts to punishing the accused more severely for having committed an act in respect of which he or she might ultimately be found not guilty (para. 14).

 

3.         Analysis

 

3.1       Admissibility of Fresh Evidence

 

12                               As mentioned above, an appellate court considering a motion to admit fresh evidence must decide, under s. 687(1)  Cr. C., whether it thinks fit to require or receive additional evidence.  What must guide the court of appeal in assessing the admissibility of fresh evidence is therefore a concern to serve the interests of justice.

 

13                               In Lévesque, at para. 35, this Court adapted to an appeal against sentence the four criteria set out in Palmer for determining whether it is in the interests of justice to admit fresh evidence on an appeal from a verdict:

 

(1)        The evidence should generally not be admitted if, by due diligence, it could have been adduced at trial provided that this general principle will not be applied as strictly in a criminal case as in civil cases.

 

(2)        The evidence must be relevant in the sense that it bears upon a decisive or potentially decisive issue relating to the sentence.

 

(3)        The evidence must be credible in the sense that it is reasonably capable of belief.

 


(4)        The evidence must be such that if believed it could reasonably, when taken with the other evidence adduced at trial, be expected to have affected the result.

 

14                               In Lévesque, the Court recognized that the strict rules of a trial do not apply to a sentencing hearing, because in order to determine the appropriate sentence the judge must have as much information as possible about the accused (para. 30).  The Court held that the Palmer criteria do not compromise this more flexible application of the rules and noted that those criteria are just as important where the appeal relates to the sentence.  It will be helpful for the purposes of the case at bar to recall why this is true:

 

The integrity of the criminal process and the role of appeal courts could be jeopardized by the routine admission of fresh evidence on appeal, since this would create a two‑tier sentencing system.  That kind of system would be incompatible with the high standard of review applicable to appeals from sentences and the underlying “profound functional justifications”:  see R. v. M. (C.A.), [1996] 1 S.C.R. 500, at para. 91.  Despite the fresh evidence, the sentencing judge, unlike the appeal judge, has the benefit of being able to directly assess the other evidence, the testimony and the submissions of the parties, as well as being familiar with the needs and current conditions of and in the community where the crime was committed:  see M. (C.A.), supra, at para. 91.  Furthermore, appeal courts are not the appropriate forum in which to determine questions of fact, and they should do so only when the fresh evidence presents certain characteristics such as would justify expanding their traditional role.  This Court has already identified those characteristics, in Palmer.  In my view, whether the appeal relates to a verdict or a sentence, the criteria laid down by this Court in Palmer are the criteria that are to be applied where a court of appeal is determining whether to admit fresh evidence. [para. 20]

 


15                               In accordance with the last three of the Palmer criteria, an appellate court can therefore admit evidence only if it is relevant and credible and if it could reasonably be expected to have affected the result had it been adduced at trial together with the other evidence.  With respect to the first criterion, this Court has stated a number of times that failure to meet the due diligence criterion should not be used to refuse to admit fresh evidence on appeal if the evidence is compelling and if it is in the interests of justice to admit it (Lévesque, at para. 15; R. v. Warsing, [1998] 3 S.C.R. 579, at para. 51).  The fact remains that this criterion is an important one whose specific purpose is to protect the interests and the administration of justice and to preserve the role of the appellate court (Lévesque, at para. 30, citing R. v. M. (P.S.) (1992), 77 C.C.C. (3d) 402 (Ont. C.A.), at p. 410).

 

16                               In the present case, I am of the view that the Crown did not act with due diligence and that, in the interests of the administration of justice, the failure to do so is determinative.  The conflict between Crown counsel and the detective sergeant may explain why the evidence that the Crown now seeks to introduce by motion was not adduced during the sentencing hearing, but this circumstance does not constitute evidence of due diligence.  The record shows unequivocally that the Crown could have submitted the evidence in question to the trial judge were it not for that breakdown in communication.  It cannot be in the interests of the administration of justice to condone such a lack of co‑ordination and co‑operation between the Crown and the police.

 


17                               Since I consider the lack of due diligence to be determinative in the case at bar, it is not necessary to make a final determination as to the decisiveness of the fresh evidence or to decide whether that evidence — which Mr. Angelillo contests vigorously — is sufficiently credible.  However, I feel that it may be helpful to make a few general comments regarding the relevance of evidence of acts that have resulted neither in charges nor in convictions, since the Court of Appeal seems to have rejected out of hand the reasoning of Rosenberg J.A. of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Edwards.  The court stated in particular that it did not see the distinction Rosenberg J.A. had drawn in saying that evidence of such acts cannot be adduced for the purpose of obtaining a disproportionate sentence against the offender for the offence in question or of punishing the offender for an offence of which he or she has not been convicted, but that such evidence can be adduced to shed light on the offender’s background and character.  In my view, Rosenberg J.A. was correct in drawing that distinction, and it is an important one.  I will therefore begin by discussing certain general principles relating to the admissibility of extrinsic evidence for sentencing purposes before commenting on the relevance of the evidence the Crown wished to adduce in the case at bar.

 

3.2  Presumption of Innocence and Sentencing

 

18                               Every accused person has the right to be presumed innocent.  This fundamental right is not only set out in s. 6  Cr. C., but is also guaranteed by s. 11 (d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms .  However, the presumption of innocence is not irrebuttable.  At the sentencing stage, it has obviously been rebutted with respect to the offence of which the accused has been convicted.  There is therefore no question that, in determining the just and appropriate sentence, the judge can consider the underlying facts of the offence that has been proved.  Moreover, sentencing is an individualized process in which the court must take into account not only the circumstances of the offence, but also the specific circumstances of the offender.  I would like to note at the outset that the requirements for admissibility and the standard of proof to be applied in establishing all the relevant circumstances for sentencing purposes are issues that have already been considered by this Court, and that they are not in any way new principles.

 


19                               In a unanimous decision in Lees v. The Queen, [1979] 2 S.C.R. 749, McIntyre J. stated that evidence of facts tending to prove a potential but untried offence was admissible in the circumstances, because the appellant had tendered evidence of good character and because this evidence, called in reply, related to the issue of “the [accused’s] character, conduct, and attitude, all proper factors to be taken into consideration on sentencing” (p. 754).  The Court therefore held that the trial judge had not erred in admitting a police officer’s testimony that, barely a year after the offence in that case, the accused had had a weapon and a mask in his apartment and had admitted that he was considering a further crime.  Based on that evidence, the trial judge had said he was “[not] convinced that this man has learned his lesson” (p. 753).  McIntyre J. laid emphasis on these reasons of the trial judge in order to distinguish that case from others in which it was clear that the courts had imposed more severe sentences on the basis of uncharged or unproved offences that predated the trial (p. 754).

 

20                               In R. v. Gardiner, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 368, this Court recognized that it is important, at a sentencing hearing, both to obtain all relevant information and to respect the rights of the accused.  Dickson J. stated the following:

 

One of the hardest tasks confronting a trial judge is sentencing.  The stakes are high for society and for the individual.  Sentencing is the critical stage of the criminal justice system, and it is manifest that the judge should not be denied an opportunity to obtain relevant information by the imposition of all the restrictive evidential rules common to a trial.  Yet the obtaining and weighing of such evidence should be fair.  A substantial liberty interest of the offender is involved and the information obtained should be accurate and reliable.

 

It is a commonplace that the strict rules which govern at trial do not apply at a sentencing hearing and it would be undesirable to have the formalities and technicalities characteristic of the normal adversary proceeding prevail.  The hearsay rule does not govern the sentencing hearing.  Hearsay evidence may be accepted where found to be credible and trustworthy.  The judge traditionally has had wide latitude as to the sources and types of evidence upon which to base his sentence.  He must have the fullest possible information concerning the background of the accused if he is to fit the sentence to the offender rather than to the crime.  [p. 414]

 


The Court held that, in order to protect the accused, the standard of proof to be applied in establishing aggravating circumstances is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

21                               Sentencing has changed a great deal since Lees and Gardiner, especially since Part XXIII of the Criminal Code  came into force in 1996.  Part XXIII is a true penological code within the Criminal Code , and because of it, sentencing issues can now be dealt with far more systematically: see R. v. Gladue, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 688, at para. 93; R. v. Proulx, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 61, 2000 SCC 5, at para. 14.  Thus, it is the Criminal Code  that establishes the conditions for the admission of facts extrinsic to the offence for which the offender is being sentenced, and all the prior case law must be read in the light of these new provisions.  However, as we shall see, the principles established in Lees and Gardiner have been retained in the new provisions of Part XXIII.

 

3.3       Sentencing Principles

 

22                               The principles of sentencing are now codified in ss. 718 to 718.2 Cr. C.  These provisions confirm that sentencing is an individualized process in which the court must take into account not only the circumstances of the offence, but also the specific circumstances of the offender (see Gladue; Proulx, at para. 82).  Thus, the objectives of sentencing cannot be fully achieved unless the information needed to assess the circumstances, character and reputation of the accused is before the court.  The court must therefore consider facts extrinsic to the offence, and the proof of those facts often requires the admission of additional evidence.

 


23                               Since the offender must be punished only for the offence in issue, the court will generally not admit evidence of other offences that have not been proved.  In the present case, the Court of Appeal rightly referred to the following comment by LeBel J.A. in R. v. Pelletier (1989), 52 C.C.C. (3d) 340, at p. 346:

 

[translation]  While the accused’s character may be shown, and his previous criminal record established, the sentencing process must not become the occasion for indirectly punishing the accused for offences which have not been established by the normal means of proof and procedure, or that one did not wish to bring.

 

24                               There are many provisions of the Criminal Code  under which evidence that is, by nature, capable of showing that the offender has committed another offence can be admitted at the sentencing hearing.  First, evidence of any prior convictions may be adduced.  The admissibility of such extrinsic evidence does not generally pose any problems.  For example, s. 721(3) (b) provides that, unless otherwise specified by the court, any pre‑sentence report must contain the history of prior convictions.  There is no doubt that the court may take prior convictions into account in determining the appropriate sentence.  In taking them into account, however, the court must not punish the offender again.  The fundamental principle of proportionality requires that the sentence be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender; a prior conviction cannot, therefore, justify a disproportionate sentence.  This principle, which is set out in s. 718.1  Cr. C., assures repeat offenders the right not to be “punished . . . again”, as guaranteed in s. 11 (h) of the Charter .  The sentence imposed on a repeat offender may well be more severe, but this is not contrary to the offender’s right not to be punished again.  From the standpoint of proportionality, the sentence imposed in such a case is merely a reflection of the individualized sentencing process.

 


25                               Second, pursuant to s. 725(1) (b) or (b.1), the court must in determining the sentence consider outstanding charges against the offender, subject to certain conditions.  In doing this, the court will, of course, consider the facts on which the outstanding charges are based.  In addition, s. 725(1) (c) provides that the court may consider any facts forming part of the circumstances of the offence that could constitute the basis for a separate charge.  Since s. 725 is of particular relevance in the case at bar, I will reproduce it here in its entirety:  

 

725. (1)  In determining the sentence, a court

 

(a)       shall consider, if it is possible and appropriate to do so, any other offences of which the offender was found guilty by the same court, and shall determine the sentence to be imposed for each of those offences;

 

(b)       shall consider, if the Attorney General and the offender consent, any outstanding charges against the offender to which the offender consents to plead guilty and pleads guilty, if the court has jurisdiction to try those charges, and shall determine the sentence to be imposed for each charge unless the court is of the opinion that a separate prosecution for the other offence is necessary in the public interest;

 

(b.1)    shall consider any outstanding charges against the offender, unless the court is of the opinion that a separate prosecution for one or more of the other offences is necessary in the public interest, subject to the following conditions:

 

(i)         the Attorney General and the offender consent,

 

(ii)        the court has jurisdiction to try each charge,

 

(iii)       each charge has been described in open court,

 

(iv)       the offender has agreed with the facts asserted in the description of each charge, and

 

(v)        the offender has acknowledged having committed the offence described in each charge; and

 

(c)       may consider any facts forming part of the circumstances of the offence that could constitute the basis for a separate charge.

 

(1.1)    For the purpose of paragraphs (1)(b) and (b.1), the Attorney General shall take the public interest into account before consenting.

 


(2)       The court shall, on the information or indictment, note

 

(a)       any outstanding charges considered in determining the sentence under paragraph (1)(b.1), and

 

(b)       any facts considered in determining the sentence under paragraph (1)(c),

 

and no further proceedings may be taken with respect to any offence described in those charges or disclosed by those facts unless the conviction for the offence of which the offender has been found guilty is set aside or quashed on appeal.

 

26                               Since the fresh evidence in the present case has resulted in new charges against Mr. Angelillo, s. 725(1)(b) or (b.1) could have been invoked in respect of those charges, but neither of these provisions could be applied without Mr. Angelillo’s consent.  On the other hand, s. 725(1)(c) — under which a court may consider facts forming part of the circumstances of the offence that have not resulted in charges — does not require the offender’s consent.  The scope of that provision is discussed in R. v. Larche, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 762, 2006 SCC 56.  I will simply note, for the purposes of my analysis, that s. 725(1)(c) would have been inapplicable even if new charges had not been laid against Mr. Angelillo, because the facts alleged in the fresh evidence did not “[form] part of the circumstances of the offence” within the meaning of that provision.  When the conditions set out in s. 725 are met, the consideration of other offences does not violate the offender’s rights.  In such cases, as specified by Parliament, the court must note on the information or indictment any charges or facts considered in determining the sentence, and s. 725(2) provides that “no further proceedings may be taken with respect to any offence described in those charges or disclosed by those facts”.

 


27                               Third, if none of the paragraphs of s. 725(1) are applicable, the evidence in the instant case may be the type of extrinsic evidence that was in issue in Edwards.  As Rosenberg J.A. recognized, there may be situations in which evidence that relates to one of the sentencing objectives or principles set out in the Criminal Code  shows that the offender has committed another offence but never been charged with or convicted of it.  Such facts may nevertheless be relevant and must not automatically be excluded in every case.  As is often the case, the admissibility of the evidence will depend on the purpose for which its admission is sought.  For example, let us assume that — as happens too often, unfortunately — a man is convicted of assaulting his spouse.  The fact that he abused his spouse in committing the offence is an aggravating circumstance under s. 718.2 (a)(ii).  Section 718  requires the court to determine the appropriate sentence that will, among other things, denounce unlawful conduct, deter the offender from re‑offending, separate the offender from society where necessary, and promote a sense of responsibility in the offender and acknowledgment of the harm he or she has done.  It is therefore important for the court to obtain all relevant information.  This is why several provisions of the Criminal Code  authorize the admission of evidence at the sentencing hearing.

 

28                               First of all, the court may order the filing of “a report in writing relating to the accused for the purpose of assisting the court in imposing a sentence”: s. 721(1).  Unless otherwise specified by the court, the report must contain information about the accused:  his or her age, maturity, character, behaviour, attitude and willingness to make amends:  s. 721(3)(a).  Section 723 requires the court to give the prosecutor and the defence an opportunity to make submissions with respect to any facts relevant to the sentence to be imposed and to hear any evidence they see fit to submit.  Section 726.1 clearly states that all this information must be considered in determining the sentence:  

 

726.1  In determining the sentence, a court shall consider any relevant information placed before it, including any representations or submissions made by or on behalf of the prosecutor or the offender.


29                               Next, the Criminal Code  explicitly requires that information or evidence relating to the specific circumstances of the accused be taken into account in determining the terms of the sentence.  Thus, the “character of the offender” is one factor to consider before ordering a period of probation (s. 731(1) ) or ordering that a sentence be served intermittently (s. 732(1) ).  As well, where, as in the case at bar, the court must decide under s. 742.1  whether a conditional sentence of imprisonment is appropriate, it must also, in its analysis, decide whether it is satisfied that for the offender to serve the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community.

 

30                               I now return to my example of the man who has assaulted his spouse.  The extrinsic evidence could establish that this was an isolated incident for which the offender has expressed remorse and that the offender has demonstrated an ability to change his behaviour to prevent any risk of re‑offending.  However, the evidence could also show, on the contrary, that it was a common occurrence in the couple’s relationship and one that could well occur each time the offender is intoxicated or frustrated.  In the latter case, the offender would not be able to argue that facts extrinsic to the offence that demonstrate his violent character are irrelevant, on the basis that this evidence may show that he has committed other assaults in respect of which he has been neither charged nor convicted.  These facts are relevant and, in my opinion, are admissible in principle because they relate to the sentencing objectives and principles that are expressly set out in the Criminal Code .  The offender cannot invoke the presumption of innocence to exclude character evidence, since that presumption has in fact been rebutted with respect to the offence of which he has been convicted.

 


31                               I cannot agree with Fish J., who would admit no evidence of acts tending to establish the commission of another offence in respect of which the offender has not been charged, except in the context of s. 725(1)(c).  Under that provision, as is explained in Larche, the court may consider any facts forming part of the circumstances of the offence that could constitute the basis for a separate charge.  I concede that there may be cases in which such facts are also relevant to the offender’s character or reputation.  But it is not always easy to tie evidence of reputation or character to a separate offence.  Nor does such evidence always form part of the circumstances of the offence — sometimes it only forms part of the circumstances of the offender.  With respect, if Fish J. were right, a pre‑sentence report setting out facts demonstrating that the offender has a violent character, is a drug addict, has no respect for the court’s authority or has not learned his or her lesson could violate the presumption of innocence, since such facts could very well tend to establish the commission of various offences, including assault, possession of narcotics and breach of recognizance.  I do not believe this to be the effect of the presumption of innocence.  The presumption does not constitute a general exclusionary rule of evidence that precludes the admission of all extrinsic evidence relevant to sentencing for the offence in issue on the basis that it might establish the commission of another offence.  This does not mean that the offender has no procedural protection where extrinsic evidence is concerned.  There are a number of other principles that assure the offender’s right to a fair trial.  I will explain this.

 


32                               If the extrinsic evidence is contested, the prosecution must prove it.  Since the facts in question will doubtless be aggravating facts, they must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt (s. 724(3)(e)).  The court can sentence the offender only for the offence of which he or she has been convicted, and the sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of that offence.  In addition, the judge can and must exclude otherwise relevant evidence if its prejudicial effect outweighs its probative value such that the offender’s right to a fair trial is jeopardized.  Finally, the court must draw a distinction between considering facts establishing the commission of an uncharged offence for the purpose of punishing the accused for that other offence, and considering them to establish the offender’s character and reputation or risk of re‑offending for the purpose of determining the appropriate sentence for the offence of which he or she has been convicted.  In my example, the sentence imposed on a violent offender may well be more restrictive than the sentence imposed on an offender who has committed an isolated act, but this is in no way contrary to the presumption of innocence.  The sentence may also be more restrictive in the case of a repeat offender if the Crown presents evidence of the offender’s criminal record, but this does not violate the offender’s right, guaranteed by s. 11 (h) of the Charter , not to be “punished . . . again”.  In both cases, again from the standpoint of proportionality, the more severe sentence is merely a reflection of the individualized sentencing process.

 

33                               Finally, Fish J. fears that the Crown could easily, and even in good faith, avoid the application of s. 725 by withdrawing or postponing a new charge for the sole purpose of introducing evidence of subsequent acts as aggravating facts in order to obtain a more severe sentence (para. 59).  In my view, there is no real danger that this would happen.  It must be recalled, as Fish J. himself mentions in Larche, at para. 39, that “proceedings cannot be delayed abusively to increase punishment:  R. v. Parisien (1971), 3 C.C.C. (2d) 433 (B.C.C.A.)”.  In Parisien, the Court of Appeal reduced the sentence because of the Crown’s actions.

 

3.4  Relevance of the Fresh Evidence in the Case at Bar

 


34                               Another issue that arose in the case at bar in addition to the general sentencing principles was whether, under s. 742.1  Cr. C., the court was satisfied that for the offender to serve his sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community.  It will be helpful to reproduce this provision, which establishes the conditions that must be met before a conditional sentence is granted:

 

742.1  Where a person is convicted of an offence, except an offence that is punishable by a minimum term of imprisonment, and the court

 

(a)       imposes a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years, and

 

(b)       is satisfied that serving the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community and would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing set out in sections 718 to 718.2,

 

the court may, for the purpose of supervising the offender’s behaviour in the community, order that the offender serve the sentence in the community, subject to the offender’s complying with the conditions of a conditional sentence order made under section 742.3.

 

35                               In Proulx, this Court concluded that the factors to be considered under s. 742.1  include the risk of re‑offending and the gravity of the damage that could ensue should the offender re‑offend, including the risk of economic harm (para. 75).  Since the risk to the community must be assessed on a case‑by‑case basis, it is not desirable or even possible to establish an exhaustive list of factors to consider in reaching a conclusion on this issue.  However, I note that the Court quoted with approval (at para. 70) the list of factors identified by Rousseau‑Houle J.A. of the Quebec Court of Appeal in R. v. Maheu (1997), 116 C.C.C. (3d) 361, at p. 374:

 

[translation] . . . 1) the nature of the offence, 2) the relevant circumstances of the offence, which can put in issue prior and subsequent incidents, 3) the degree of participation of the accused, 4) the relationship of the accused with the victim, 5) the profile of the accused, that is, his occupation, his lifestyle, his criminal record, his family situation, his mental state, 6) his conduct following the commission of the offence, 7) the danger which the interim release of the accused represents for the community, notably that part of the community affected by the matter.


36                               The fact that Mr. Angelillo had been charged with two new counts of fraud, both of which were allegedly committed while he was waiting to be sentenced, was obviously relevant to the assessment of the danger his release would represent for the community.  Had Judge Corte considered it necessary to do so, she could have postponed the sentencing hearing to a date after the interim release hearing regarding the new charges in order to be better informed of the risk resulting from the subsequent acts.

 


37                               Furthermore, as mentioned above, Mr. Angelillo chose to present evidence relating to his character.  In her sentencing submissions, counsel for Mr. Angelillo objected to the position of Crown counsel, who was asking the court to impose an unconditional three‑year term of imprisonment.  She raised mitigating factors such as [translation] “the existence of remorse and regrets”, relying more specifically on the pre‑sentence report, which states that Mr. Angelillo [translation] “has done some soul‑searching, which seems to be sincere, about his inappropriate behaviour” and that his “time in court [has] had a major deterrent effect”, and concludes that Mr. “Angelillo is not dangerous and that his risk of re‑offending is low”.  Had Crown counsel been aware of the new facts, she could have asked the court to order that the pre‑sentence report be updated, as it was already almost a year old.  It is reasonable to believe that the author of the updated report might have given a less optimistic opinion as to Mr. Angelillo’s risk of re‑offending.  Without this update, there was a risk that the court might be deceived — which did in fact happen, according to the Crown.  I agree that it is in the interests of justice to avoid such a result.  It is important to note in this respect that at the hearing of this appeal, counsel informed the Court that when, on August 20, 2004, four months after the sentence was pronounced, Mr. Angelillo appeared in connection with the events the Crown wants to prove, the Crown did not object to his release on bail.  If nothing militated against his release at that time, it is hard to conclude that the court had in fact been deceived.

 

4.  Disposition

 

38                               For these reasons, the Court of Appeal’s decision not to admit the fresh evidence is affirmed and the appeal is dismissed.

 

The reasons of Binnie and Fish JJ. were delivered by

 

Fish J. —

 

                                                                    I

 

39                            I agree with Justice Charron that the appeal should be dismissed.  I agree as well with the reasons on which her conclusion rests.

 

40                            With respect, however, I do not share my colleague’s view that sentencing courts may consider uncharged and unrelated offences.  Parliament has addressed the issue in s. 725(1) (c) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 .  In virtue of that provision, sentencing courts may consider uncharged offences only if they are related to the offence charged — that is to say, only if they consist in “facts forming part of the circumstances [of the crime for which the accused is to be sentenced]”.  And Parliament has taken care to protect offenders from being twice punished in this regard: Offences considered by the sentencing court pursuant to s. 725(1) (c) cannot form the basis of further proceedings against the offender.


 

41                               Justice Charron would permit sentencing courts to consider uncharged offences even if they are unrelated, and she would remove for these unrelated offences the protection that Parliament has expressly provided for related offences.  Moreover, as we shall see, this proposal rests on the doubtful proposition that evidence of an aggravating factor — other offences — is not introduced for purposes of punishment although it will almost invariably have that effect.

 

II

 

42                               This is an appeal from a decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal dismissing the Crown’s appeal to that court against a conditional sentence imposed at trial.  In the Court of Appeal, and again in this Court, the Crown sought to introduce as fresh evidence facts that were the basis of other charges against Mr. Angelillo.  I emphasize for the sake of clarity that the Crown’s application relates to charged offences only.

 

43                               The Court of Appeal declined to admit this evidence, and Justice Charron would affirm that decision for two reasons: First, because charged but untried offences can only be admitted if the requirements of s. 725  of the Criminal Code  have been met — they were not met in this case; and second, because the Crown did not act with diligence, as required by Palmer v. The Queen, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 759.  Without the fresh evidence, as Justice Charron makes plain, the Crown’s appeal could not succeed before the Court of Appeal and cannot succeed here.

 


44                               It is for these reasons that Justice Charron would dismiss the Crown’s appeal to this Court.  As I mentioned at the outset, I agree with my colleague’s conclusion and with the reasons upon which it rests.

 

45                               I turn now to the issue that divides us.

 

III

 

46                               Parliament put in place barely a decade ago a comprehensive set of statutory provisions on sentencing.  As Justice Charron mentions, these provisions together form “a true penological code” (para. 21).  And as part of that “code”,  Parliament has set out in s. 725  the requirements for considering, in the determination of a sentence, other offences for which the offender has been neither tried nor convicted.

 

47                               Charged but untried offences, as in this case, cannot be considered unless they meet the requirements of s. 725(1) (b) or (b.1).  As my colleague explains, those conditions have not been met and it is for that reason that they could not be considered in determining Mr. Angelillo’s sentence — even if the Crown had proceeded with diligence.

 

48                               The facts underlying these charged offences are no less relevant to Mr. Angelillo’s “background and character” than they would be if charges had not been laid.  My colleague nonetheless finds, and I agree of course, that evidence of those facts could not be admitted because it failed to satisfy the requirements for its admission established by Parliament in s. 725(1) (b) and (b.1) of the  Criminal Code .  Yet she would admit that evidence if the charges had not — or not yet — been laid.  As mentioned at the outset I do not share that view.


 

49                               In any event, Parliament has provided in s. 725(1) (c) that uncharged offences may only be considered if they are based on “facts forming part of the circumstances of the offence” for which the offender is to be sentenced.  For the sake of brevity, I refer to these offences as “connected” or “related” offences.

 

50                               In R. v. Larche, [2006] 2 S.C.R. 762, 2006 SCC 56, released concurrently, I have dealt in some detail with this requirement of connexity.  The criteria set out there should in large measure allay the understandable concerns mentioned by Justice Charron with respect to cases of domestic abuse, where a history of similar incidents that have never given rise to charges would nonetheless form “part of the circumstances of the offence” within the meaning of s. 725(1) (c): Larche, at paras. 54-55.

 

51                               Parliament has decided that not all evidence relevant to the background and character of the offender may be considered by the sentencing judge.  The rule proposed by Justice Charron would give a court the discretionary power to consider uncharged offences that do not form part of the circumstances of the offence.  This would in practice override the inherent  restriction of s. 725(1) (c) and render it entirely superfluous.

 

52                               The rule proposed by Justice Charron would also lack the statutory procedural safeguards that Parliament has provided with regard to s. 725  of the Criminal Code Section 725(2)  prohibits the subsequent prosecution of uncharged offences considered by a court in determining the sentence under s. 725(1) (c).  These uncharged offences, once considered, must be noted on the information or indictment. This protects the accused from double punishment, unless the conviction for the offence of which the offender has been found guilty is set aside or quashed on appeal.


 

53                               It is true, as my colleague mentions, that previous convictions may properly be taken into account in determining the sentence for a subsequent offence.  Here, however, the question was whether the sentencing court could consider subsequent offences for which the respondent had not been convicted.  My colleague would answer that question in the affirmative, but for the fact that charges had already been laid.  In her view, a sentencing court may consider unrelated and uncharged offences, previous or subsequent, under the rubric “background and character” — or, more accurately perhaps in this case, “future background and character”.  With respect, I do not agree.

 

54                               In the case of previous convictions, the book has been closed — no further proceedings may be instituted.  In the present case, proceedings not only can be, but in fact were, instituted. 

 

55                               My colleague’s proposal would permit subsequent prosecution of uncharged offences that have already led to a stiffer penalty for a charged offence.  And, where the uncharged offence relates to facts that occurred after those for which the offender has been charged and convicted, a “feedback loop” would almost invariably operate.  The offender would then be more severely punished on the first offence because he or she later committed a second offence.  Once that second offence has been made the subject of a charge, the offender would likely be punished more severely on this new charge because of the earlier offence for which the offender has already received a stiffer sentence on account of the second offence which was not yet then charged.

 


56                               In this context, I note in passing that R. v. Edwards (2001), 155 C.C.C. (3d) 473 (Ont. C.A.), and Lees v. The Queen, [1979] 2 S.C.R. 749, upon which my colleague relies, are both readily distinguishable from the present matter.  In Edwards, the contentious facts related in part to an offence that was said to have been committed 18 years earlier in Jamaica and no charge could therefore be laid in Canada.  The other contentious facts related to evidence of a “pattern of violence”, a matter I have already considered above (para. 50).  In Lees, no charge had been laid either, and it was “even doubtful whether there was a possible offence” (McIntyre J., at p. 754).

 

57                               Nothing I say here is meant to call into question the admissibility in Canada of proof of previous convictions where this has been permitted by Parliament or is admissible under a recognized rule of the common law.  Nor do I suggest for a moment that pre-sentence reports cannot refer to the matters mentioned by Charron J. in para. 31 of her reasons (evidence of addiction, a predisposition to violence, and so forth).  Where the facts in question relate to other offences, charged or uncharged, they must however be admissible either in virtue of s. 725  or under another provision of law.

 

58                               Justice Charron disagrees only with respect to uncharged offences, which are in her view admissible if they go to “background and character”, whether or not they comply with s. 725(1) (c) of the Criminal Code .  In her opinion, as I understand it, if the uncharged offences go to background and character and comply with s. 725(1) (c), they cannot form the basis of further proceedings; but if they go to background and character and do not comply with s. 725(1) (c), the offender may subsequently be charged and punished for those previously considered offences. In short, as mentioned earlier, Justice Charron would permit sentencing courts to consider uncharged offences even if they are unrelated, and she would remove for these unrelated offences the protection that Parliament has expressly provided for related offences.

 


59                               Under Justice Charron’s proposal, moreover, the Crown could circumvent the restrictions imposed by Parliament in s. 725  by withdrawing a charge that has been laid or postpone the charging of an offence until after the trial judge has decided whether to consider it as an aggravating circumstance in determining the sentence for a distinct and unrelated offence.   In neither instance would the Crown necessarily be acting in bad faith.  It would be playing by the rule proposed by my colleague.

 

60                               Nor, with respect, do I find persuasive Justice Charron’s distinction between leading evidence of untried offences for the purpose of punishment and the introduction of that evidence “to establish the offender’s character and reputation or risk of re-offending for the purpose of determining the appropriate sentence for the offence of which he or she has been convicted” (para. 32 (emphasis in original)).

 

61                               It seems to me that any evidence of untried offences introduced by the Crown at the sentencing stage goes to punishment and is introduced for that purpose — either because it is said to call for a more severe sentence or to preclude a sentence that is less restrictive.

 

62                               Justice Charron recognizes this reality (para. 32).  She acknowledges that evidence of uncharged offences would “doubtless be aggravating”.  And, in her own example of the violent spouse, my colleague mentions that evidence of the uncharged offence might well lead to a more restrictive sanction.

 


63                               Anything that is said to be “aggravating”, it seems to me, is introduced for the purpose of punishment.  Indeed, s. 718.2(a) refers specifically to the principle that sentences should be increased  “to account for any relevant aggravating . . . circumstances relating to the offence or the offender”.  And s. 718.2(d) provides that custodial sentences should not be imposed if “less restrictive sanctions” — the phrase used by my colleague — “may be appropriate in the circumstances”.

 

64                               In this light, I am unable to agree that evidence of uncharged offences, an acknowledged aggravating factor, can be admitted on the ground that it goes to “background and character” but not to punishment.  Offenders whose sentences are increased on account of this aggravating factor — uncharged offences — will be forgiven for thinking that it has caused them to be more severely punished.

 

65                               H. L. A. Hart put this aspect of the matter admirably almost a half-century ago.  Dealing then with the putative distinction between considerations of  “background and character” and “punishment” in the determination of sentences — in the context of what had since at least 1908 been characterized in central Europe as “double-track” penology — Professor Hart stated:

 

[T]he “double‑track” system has been elaborated in ways which may seem to us somewhat metaphysical: punishment which is to be “guilt‑adequate”, i.e. orientated towards the criminal act, is carefully distinguished from mere “measures” orientated to the criminal’s character and the needs of society. The recent German Penal Code preserves this distinction though it is regretted as artificial by many. Certainly the prisoner who after serving a three‑year sentence is told that his punishment is over but that a seven‑year period of preventive detention awaits him and that this is a “measure” of social protection, not a punishment, might think he was being tormented by a barren piece of conceptualism — though he might not express himself in that way.

 

(Punishment and the Elimination of Responsibility (1962), at p. 12)

 


Nor would the prisoner be much moved by my colleague’s explanation that a more severe sentence for a charged offence is not punishment for the uncharged offence that is the reason for its increased severity.

 

66                               And I reiterate here two important considerations.

 

67                               First, my colleague agrees that evidence of other offences is not admissible merely because it sheds light on the offender’s background and character.  That is why the tendered evidence is not admissible in this case: Though plainly relevant to Mr. Angelillo’s background and character, it does not comply with the requirements set out by Parliament in s. 725  of the Criminal Code .  Even if the Crown had acted with diligence, that evidence would remain inadmissible.  Charged offences, as in this case, can hardly be less important in evaluating the offender’s background and character than evidence of the uncharged offences that my colleague would permit on that ground.

 

68                               Perhaps more important still, Parliament has provided for the admission of uncharged offences only if they are relevant to the offence for which the offender is to be sentenced.  This is not a matter of legislative oversight.  Parliament has chosen not to permit evidence of offences that are uncharged and unrelated.  We should not do so by judicial fiat.  Still less should we remove for uncharged and unrelated offences the protection Parliament has expressly provided for offences that are uncharged and related.

 

IV

 


69                               It is not my position, as my colleague suggests (at para. 31), that offenders can invoke the presumption of innocence to exclude evidence of unrelated and uncharged offences.  Nor is there any need for them to do so: In my respectful view, that evidence is inadmissible for the reasons set out above.  I think it nonetheless useful to add a brief word on Justice Charron’s suggestion that the offender cannot invoke the presumption of innocence to exclude the evidence of untried offences because “that presumption has in fact been rebutted with respect to the offence of which he has been convicted” (para. 30 (emphasis added)).

 

70                               It is true of course, as Justice Charron mentions, that the presumption of innocence is overcome by a conviction — but only by a conviction for the offence charged.  A finding of guilt on charges that have been tried has no bearing on the offender’s presumed innocence regarding offences that were never charged or admitted.

 

71                               Nothing prevents the Attorney General from charging the offender with those crimes.  The offender must then, of course, be presumed innocent until proven guilty.  It is unclear to me why offenders who are presumed innocent of the offences with which they are charged cannot invoke that presumption when, at the sentencing stage on another charge, they face increased punishment on account of the offences not charged.

 

72                               Indeed, it is because the presumption of innocence clearly applies at the sentencing stage to uncharged offences that s. 724(3) (e) of the Criminal Code  requires the prosecutor to prove them beyond a reasonable doubt — even where Parliament has permitted their admission under s. 725 .  Absent an admission of guilt, they cannot otherwise be considered in determining the sentence for any other offence.

 

V

 


73                               Subject to these reasons, I agree with Justice Charron and, more particularly, I agree that the appeal should be dismissed.

 

Appeal dismissed.

 

Solicitor for the appellant:  Attorney General of Quebec, Montréal.

 

Solicitors for the respondent:  Dufresne Hébert Comeau, Montréal.

 

 You are being directed to the most recent version of the statute which may not be the version considered at the time of the judgment.