Supreme Court of Canada to rule on constitutionality of mandatory firearms sentences
The Supreme Court of Canada plans to rule today on the constitutionality of mandatory minimum sentences in cases of armed robbery and negligent firearms handling.
In one case, Jesse Dallas Hills pleaded guilty to four charges stemming from a May 2014 incident in Lethbridge, Alta., in which he swung a baseball bat and fired at a car with a bolt-action rifle, shattering a vehicle window. Broke in and fired shots into a family’s home.
Hills argued that the minimum four-year sentence for negligent handling of a firearm violates the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
A judge agreed and Hills was sentenced to 3½ years, but the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the finding of unconstitutionality and the sentence was increased to four years.
In two other Alberta cases, men pleaded guilty to charges related to armed robberies of convenience stores.
In each case, the sentencing judge declared the relevant mandatory minimum sentences unconstitutional, decisions that were upheld on appeal.