Legislation can become outdated, which is why courts review them, as well as the verdicts that they result in. Sometimes, as any lawyer from Donich Law can tell, this can lead to an overruling years after the original verdict.
An Ontario man who was found not criminally responsible (NCR) for a sexual offence back in 2002 recently received good news, as the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of him, deeming Ontario’s sex offender registry laws as discriminatory to him and other people found NCR of these crimes.
Mr. G, who remains anonymous due to a publication ban, received an absolute discharge years after the original verdict, but was still listed down in Ontario’s sex offender registry due to what’s known as Christopher’s Law, to remain on the list for life.
In response, Mr. G forwarded his case to lawyers and the courts. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed his application in 2017, only for the Ontario Court of Appeal to later allow his appeal later in 2019, ruling that the sex offender registries were violating his rights as per the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The 7-2 decision, ruled late November 2020, means that Mr. G’s name will not be listed down on the Ontario sex offender registry, and the province will have to make amendments to Christopher’s Law to make sure it complies with the constitution.
The federal government didn’t appeal, but did support the Ontario Attorney General’s choice to overturn the decision of the SCC, noting that there is evidence, highly accepted by lawyers like Donich Law and the legal industry, that those found NCR are more likely to reoffend than those of the general population.
Toronto’s Erin Dann acted as the representative of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the country’s largest criminal law specialty association, noted that those who were deemed NCR due to mental issues were often treated more harshly than those who found guilty then later received a conditional or absolute discharge.
They state that they’re not arguing that the people who are found NCR for sexual offences shouldn’t be placed on the sex offender registry, but that they should be provided the same exit ramps that people who have been convicted and found guilty.
Justice Andromache Karaktsanis notes that, by denying the NCR these exit ramps, Christopher’s Law assumes that the NCR are unable to rehabilitate, and perpetuates negative stereotypes about the mentally troubled.