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==> animal cruelty guide homepage

Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Animal abuse
and the OSPCA
isn't helping?

Let's see
what we can
do together.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Doing TNR and
other animal
support work
in the
community?

So do I.
Let me help
with your
legal issues.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background


Dog/cat
pound seizure?

Let's protect
your friends.

_____

Simon Shields, LLB
Lawyer and Author of Isthatlegal.ca

Talk to the Lawyer

(simonshields@isp.com)

Services
How It Works
Background



Animals and the Criminal Code (Canada)
(June 2008)

Chapter 6 - Penalties


  1. Basic Sentencing Concepts
    (a) Overview
    (b) Indictable, Summary Conviction and Hybrid Offences
    (c) Sentencing Criteria
  2. Statutory Maximums for the Main Animal Offences
  3. Orders of Prohibition and/or Restitution
  4. Related Offence Penalties
  5. Some Sentencing Caselaw
________________________________________


1. Basic Sentencing Concepts

(a) Overview

There are a number of considerations when determining the 'sentence' or penalty that will be assessed against a convicted defendant. These require understanding of some basic concepts, explained here.

Note that the most recent amendment [Bill S-203] to the Part XI animal offences consisted entirely of penalty increases, most provisions adding an 'indictable' five-year maximum form of the offences [see s.2 below]. Courts will take this as a signal to increase sentencing proportionally in relation to the pre-S-203 levels (both pre and post-S203 penalties are indicated below).

(b) Indictable, Summary Conviction and Hybrid Offences

Offences in the Code generally fall into one of three categories for penalty purposes: summary conviction, indictable and 'hybrid'.

The first, and the least serious, are "summary conviction" offences. Procedures for summary conviction offences are set out in Part XXVII of the Code and the general penalty (unless otherwise specified) established for all of them is a maximum fine of $2,000, six months imprisonment, or both [CCC s.787]. If an offence is only punishable by way of summary conviction, the offence provision will state that.

"Indictable" offences are offences of a more significant moral nature. Procedures used for them are more complex than those for summary conviction matters, and their penalties are set out specifically in the Code in relation to each different type of offence. The offence provision will expressly state if the offence can be charged 'by way of indictment'.

"Hybrid" offences are ones that, at the election of the prosecutor, can proceed EITHER by way of summary conviction, or by way of indictment. In those case the specific offence provision will state those options, and the maximum penalties associated with each option. Most animal offences (since Bill S-203) are hybrid offences.

It is revealing to note that, both before and after Bill S-203, the most extreme penalty for any form of animal offence [exceeding that for even'cruelty'] by far has been for anyone who "wilfully ... kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle". As this offence is subject to the colour of right defence (for owners: see Ch.4) it is thus primarily a true property offence as the only actual form of the offence is by non-owners depriving owners of the 'use' of the animal. This offence is the only one after Bill S-203 which can ONLY be commenced by indictment, and prior to Bill S-203 it was the ONLY offence which carried a maximum five-year imprisonment penalty (all the rest were summary conviction only: six months/$2000/both).

(c) Sentencing Criteria

Readers unfamiliar with the criminal justice system should know that the 'maximum sentences' they read about in the newspapers in relation to specific offences are rarely - if ever - applied. In fact, courts very often - especially when dealing with 'minor' matters like the animal offences - don't even apply a fine or prison at all. Much more frequent are such exotica as absolute or conditional discharges (which are effectively dismissals, sometimes with certain conditions attached), and probation (which allows the court to impose on-going conditions for a limited time). Even 'time' is often ordered served on weekends - OR as 'house arrest'.

That said, when they do get into consideration of the statutory penalties set-out in the Criminal Code, courts have developed a long list of criteria which they assess when determining the sentence. Some of these criteria are listed here.

Firstly - and as noted above - the "maximum" penalty is reserved for the most egregious forms in which the offence can be committed (think Paul Barnardo) and for this reason is quite rarely awarded. That said, the 'maximum penalty is the 'ruler' by which the court will assess the sentence in light of the relative seriousness of the facts.

Next, multiple offences will tend to be lumped together and treated as one for sentencing purposes if they are connected by a "nexus" of similarity - particularly time. Thus a series of several technically-distinct robbery and assault offences all committed in the context of one botched bank robbery will almost certainly be treated as one offence (the most serious) for the purposes of sentencing. While individual sentences are passed on each of the separate offences, this effect is achieved by ordering that they all run "concurrently" (at the same time). Offences which are not connected by such a 'nexus' are much more likely to run "consecutively" (one after another) - though this is quite rare.

Other factors which are often weighed in the sentencing decisions include (there are many more):
  • whether the defendant pleaded guilty (reduces) or was found guilty after a trial (increases)

  • past criminal record

  • remorse

  • restitution to the victim

  • standing in community
Note again that the recent increases in statutory penalty for animal offences (see s.2 below) will be taken by the courts as a direction to increase sentencing proportionally.


2. Statutory Maximums for the Main Animal Offences

All of the main animal offences (below) are discussed in Ch.3 ["Main Offences"]. Bill S-203 came in force April 2008.

OffenceIndictable (Current)Indictable Pre-S203Summary Conviction (Current)Summary Conviction (Pre-S203)
Cattle
[CCC 444]
5 years5 yearsnone18 months/$10,000/both
'Kept' Non-Cattle Animals and Birds
[CCC 445]
5 yearsnone18 months/$10,000/both6 months/$2,000/both
General Cruelty
[CCC 445.1(1)(a)]
5 yearsnone18 months/$10,000/both6 months/$2,000/both
Fighting and Baiting
[CCC 445.1(1)(b)]
5 yearsnone18 months/$10,000/both6 months/$2,000/both
Administering Poisonous/Injurious Substances to Domestic or Captive Wild Animals and Bords
[CCC 445.1(1)(c)]
5 yearsnone18 months/$10,000/both6 months/$2,000/both
Captive Bird Shooting ("Canned Hunts") [CCC 445.1(1)(d,e)]5 yearsnone18 months/$10,000/both6 months/$2,000/both
Injury During Transportation
[CCC 446(1)]
2 yearsnone6 months/$5,000/both6 months/$2,000/both
Abandonment or Inadequate Care of Domestic or Captive Wild Animals or Birds
[CCC 446(2)]
2 yearsnone6 months/$5,000/both6 months/$2,000/both
Keeping Cockpits
[CCC 447]
5 yearsnone18 months/$10,000/both6 months/$2,000/both



3. Orders of Prohibition and/or Restitution

All of the above offences [in s.2] are, on conviction, also subject to additional orders [CCC 447.1] for prohibition of ownership, custody or control of animals - and orders for restitution.

Orders of prohibition respecting ownership, custody, control and co-residency with animals or birds may be made - and may be of any length, at the judge's discretion - except that in cases of second or subsequent offences the order SHALL be for a minimum of five years. Breach of a prohibition order is itself a summary conviction offence.

On request of the Crown prosecutor or the court, orders for monetary restitution may be made against the defendant and to a person or an organization (commonly the OSPCA) who incurred care costs respecting the animal, if such costs are reasonably ascertainable.


4. Related Offence Penalties

Penalties of the "ancillary" forms of these offences [see Ch.5 "Related Offences"] are determined in relation to the penalties set for the main offences (above). Their relationships are explained in the link at Ch.5.

The maximum penalty for the animal-related offences of uttering threats [CCC s.264.1] is two years (indictable), and six months/$2000 fine/both (summary conviction).

The maximum penalty for intimidation [CCC s.423] is five years (indictable) and six months/$2000/both (summary conviction).


5. Some Sentencing Caselaw

Following are same examples of fact situations and penalties that courts have rendered in animal offence cases. When reading them, keep in mind that any case decided before April 2008 will have applied a lower maximum penalty than those now in place after Bill S203 [see s.2 above]. Before Bill S-203, the most-recent penalty maximum was six months, $2,000 fine or both.
R v Racicot (Ont Prov Div, 1998)

"General cruelty" charges re 29 dogs and "inadequate care" charge respecting six dogs and eight turtles; 88 dogs found in various states of neglect after fire in house. Guilty plea.

... 30 days jail, three years probation, 250 hours community service, $10,000 restitution, 5 years prohibition order. Multiple counts running concurrently.

R v Fowlie (NBQB, 1998)

"Cattle" charge respecting owner who killed a colt by dragging behind a car and beatings. Guilty plea.

... 90 days jail on weekends to allow farm duties; two years probation with SPCA supervision of farm, $1,000 fine.

R v Pryor (Ont CJ, 2007)

"Inadequate Care" charges respecting inadequate water, food, shelter and cleanliness for multiple horses. History of care seizures by OSPCA.

... three years probation with care reporting conditions, restitution $28,500; horse possession limited to 18

R v Perrault (NS Prov Ct, 2007)

Joint "general cruelty" criminal charge and provincial 'distress' charge respecting man who cut genitals from a kitten with scissors and failed to consequently provide medical care. Guilty pleas, physical and mental illnesses.

... three months house arrest, numerous conditions, two years probation, lifetime animal ownership prohibition, $2377 restitution, $400 fine

R v Collier (Ont CJ, 2003)

"General cruelty" charge re single dog neglect; kept in basement and denied necessary medical care re open wound and otherwise. Dog euthanized. Guilty plea, elderly defendant.

... 60 days house arrest, two years probation, prohibition order for two years, $700 restitution

R v Pedersen (BC Prov Ct, 2005)

"Mischief" charge respecting drunken killing of 31 pet geese, ducks and chickens (decapitation) in conjunction with minor charge of theft under $5,000, co-accused. History of dispute between defendants and cattle owner.

Guilty pleas. Post-charge 'discovery of Christianity'.

... one year conditional sentence, $700 restitution, $200 donation to BCSPCA

R v Campbell-Brown (Alta Prov Ct, 2004)

"Kept Non-Cattle Animals and Birds" charge respecting killing of dog by rifle in course of neighbour dispute. Defendant initially lied to police, concealed body, confessed when confronted with inculpatory evidence. Guilty plea. Some mental issues.

... 18-month suspended sentence and probation with apology letter, 100 hours community service, counselling, $1000 restitution; 5 years firearms prohibition

R v Wicker (Alta Prov Ct, 2007)

"General cruelty" charge re water scalding of own cat necessitating euthanasia. Guilty plea. Abusive childhood.

... 90 days jail intermittent, two year prohibition, two years probation, counselling.

R v Galloro (Ont CJ, 2006)

"General cruelty" and several "inadequate care" counts for neglect of multiple dogs and farm animals by elderly couple in hobby farm. Trial.

... sentencing suspended, two years probation, limitations on number of animals possessed on farm, $13,225 restitution to OSPCA, no prohibition order but OSPCA inspections

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