Tag Archives: mandatory minimum sentence

Ontario Court of Appeal Declines to Clarify When Judges Can Impose Fines Below Statutory Minimum

In a decision released on December 7, 2018, the Ontario Court of Appeal missed an opportunity to provide lower courts with guidance  regarding the circumstances in which they could depart from imposing statutory minimum fines required by provincial regulatory statutes.  Section 59(2) of the Provincial Offences Act (“POA”)  gives the court discretion to impose something less than the minimum where “exceptional circumstances” make it “unduly oppressive” or “not in the interests of justice” to do so.   However, the Court of Appeal ruled that the provincial offence regime is better served by leaving the requirements for departure from minimum fines and sentences intentionally vague.  In fact, the Court may have even muddied the waters by appearing to say that “exceptional” means “unusual” and then failing to define the term unusual.

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