The criminal code of Canada is a federal statue of the government of Canada, it was led into formation following section 91(27) of the Constitution act by the Parliament of Canada. This amendment gives the right to the federal government to legislate criminal offences in Canada. The criminal code contains the majority of the criminal offences that have been created by the Parliament while other criminal offences have been embedded into different federal statues, the code dictates the type and level of offences for which punishments can be imposed, it also dictates the methods that should be followed for prosecution.
Amendments and Unifications
The original enactment of the criminal code of Canada was held in 1892. It has never been fully revised although there have been consolidations in 1906, 1927 and 1953. To reconcile and rectify inconstancies, the consolidation of 1953 was put forth in motion which abolished all common-law offences, and it has safeguarded common law defences, justification, and excuses.
To keep with the technological, social, and economical changes in the society, amendments to the code are made almost on a yearly basis. New offences have been created like the use of credit cards, hijacking of aircraft etc. more changes have also been updated into the existing offences, such as those that have occurred recently which concern sexual assault and impaired driving offence.
Methods and Enactments
The first phase of the criminal code of Canada is comprised of enactments of the general principles followed by the parts that create offences. These are categorized into different parts such as offences against a person, offences against the administration, offences against property, currency offences, sexual offences and conspiracies.
The remaining phase is focused on the procedure and sentencing. An estimated 40% of the criminal code deals with the criminal law procedure. The other 60% comprises of the definitions of criminal law offences, the stated code for some of the defences may be liable to change from time to time but the final sentencing option is only available and is the domain of the judges.
Because the code has been criticized majorly for not reflecting the sentiments of the people of Canada, the Canadian Reform commission was abolished in 1993 and a bill was proclaimed in 1196 which majorly changes the criminal code regarding sentencing.
The Amendments of 1996
The criminal law throughout the course of history has treated the offence as being against the community, rather than being against an individual and a result of this practice the individual victims have often felt outside the criminal justice process. The amendment of 1996 has amended the sentencing provision of the criminal code. When deciding an offender’s sentence, the courts are now responsible to consider written statements of the victims that clearly and transparently describe the harm done to them or the losses that they have suffered because of the offence. The orders can only be enforced through the process of civil execution.
The court can now play a more active role in the rehabilitation process of an individual offender due to the changes made in the criminal code. For example, the conditional sentence allows a judge to impose a term of imprisonment. This sentence allows the convicted offender to serve their term punishment within the community on condition that allows supervision of the said offender.
The provisions have been designed to respond to the need of the people of Canada in regards to criminal offences that are committed to them, it also now recognizes that prison should always be the last resort, justifiable only when necessary.