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Family Violence Sentencing Decisions Released this Week

This week courts in Alberta and Prince Edward Island released sentencing decisions on family violence cases that attracted media attention.  Sentencing is a very individualized process and depends on many different factors such as the facts and circumstances of the offence, the circumstances of the offender, the need for general (societal) and specific (individual) deterrence, and many other potential factors referred to as aggravating and mitigating factors.  Absent exceptional circumstances, however, there are generally accepted ranges for certain offences.

In P.E.I., an offender who it would appear (according to media reports as I have not seen the actual decision) engaged in sexual assault of a young girl over a four-year period, was sentenced to 2.5 years in the penitentiary.  On the surface (again, knowing nothing about the facts or circumstances of the offender) this does not seem unreasonable but supposedly, at least according to the report, it was unusual and precedent-setting for the island.  The article can be found here.

Contrast this to an Alberta case where a mother who had been convicted of manslaughter in the strangling death of her daughter, was sentenced to probation.  I would expect this decision will be appealed (again, knowing nothing about the facts or circumstances of the offender beyond what was found in the article).  The article can be found here.

I will attempt to comment further when these decisions are released.

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