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R v C (2014)

  • Clayton Rice, Q.C.

Every person accused of a crime in Canada has a constitutional right to a trial. However, a plea of not guilty and a trial may not be the right move in every case. Where the police have conducted a thorough investigation and the state has a reasonable likelihood of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt, it may be appropriate to consider negotiating a guilty plea to reduced charges or making an application to the court for a special disposition. In this case, C was charged with assault with a weapon when he used a belt to discipline his young son for correction purposes. Although the force he used was reasonable in the circumstances under s 43 of the Criminal Code, the use of the belt ran afoul of the leading case law from the Supreme Court of Canada. When C pleaded guilty as charged, Mr Rice brought an application for a discharge under s 730 of the Code. This section allows the courts to grant a discharge when it is not contrary to the public interest. A successful application means that a defendant is not convicted and would not therefore have a criminal record. In this case, the sentencing judge held that the use of the belt was not excessive, there were no serious injuries and a public record of a conviction was not necessary. The dischsrge application was granted.

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