Judge declares plank of 2008 Tory omnibus crime bill unconstitutional

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TORONTO - An Ontario judge has declared another plank of the Conservative government's 2008 omnibus crime bill unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Alan Bryant struck down a section of the Criminal Code dealing with dangerous offenders in a decision published today.

The section reverses the traditional onus on the Crown and requires an offender, in certain circumstances, to prove that he or she is not a dangerous offender, a designation that can see someone locked up for the rest of their lives.

This particular provision applies to offenders who have been convicted three times of a specified violent or sexual crime with sentences of at least two years.

Bryant found that a burden on the offender to prove they do not have a pattern of dangerous behaviour and won't cause injury or pain in the future is too onerous and violates the charter.

That provision was part of the government's 2008 Tackling Violent Crime bill, including mandatory minimum penalties for firearm offences, some of which have also been declared unconstitutional by Ontario courts.

A spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General noted the rest of the dangerous offender sentencing regime is not affected by the ruling.

The case at the heart of the challenge returns to court on Oct. 16 to set a date for sentencing, so spokesman Brendan Crawley said he could not comment further.

Organizations: Ontario Ministry

Geographic location: Ontario, TORONTO

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