Updated: Oct 31, 2019
The Ontario Court of Appeal has weighed in on when a sentencing has dragged on so long that it becomes unconstitutional to proceed further.
In the above case (which can be read by clicking on the case title) the Ontario Court of Appeal was asked to decide what to do about Mr. Charley's sentencing, and how long it had taken. Mr. Charley had been convicted of robbery with a firearm and related offences, but instead of being sentenced quickly, 17 months passed between the conviction and the trial judge entering a stay of proceedings after finding unreasonable delay.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ultimately dismissed the stay of proceedings, and entered a conviction against Mr. Charley, before sending the case back for sentencing to be completed at the trial court.
But, while the Ontario Court of Appeal found against Mr. Charley in his particular circumstances, the most important thing they did was to set a presumptive limit for how long post-conviction proceedings (generally sentencing) should take. The Ontario Court of Appeal set a presumptive ceiling of 5 months.
For most cases, there is no reason why sentencing should take longer than 5 months, and this new ceiling will push the Crown and the court to get cases done rather than leaving people waiting to know their fate. This decision provides another tool that the defence can use to ensure their client's rights are respected, even after they are found guilty.
Watch for this case to potentially go to the Supreme Court of Canada, as the Crown argued against the sort of 5 month ceiling the Ontario Court of Appeal established.