This verdict is written on a cocktail napkin. And it still says guilty!
Criminal law sets a standard of behaviour for all people who live in our country. Its main purpose is to protect society and to keep communities peaceful and safe. When a person’s behaviour does not meet the standards set out in the Criminal Code and other laws, they could face criminal charges. In the season four episode “Marge in Chains,” Marge Simpson found herself in such circumstances by stealing a bottle of bourbon.
The situation surrounding Marge’s theft was complex. A flu epidemic left Marge to take care of her entire sick family. Exhausted, Marge appeared to accidentally forget to pay for a bottle of bourbon at the Kwik-E-Mart. Marge was caught, then charged with and found guilty of theft. She was sentenced to 30 days in the Springfield Women’s Prison.
Canada’s Criminal Code divides theft into two types:
In most cases if a judge or jury finds a person guilty, the defence lawyer and the Crown Prosecutor each recommend a sentence to the judge, then the judge chooses from the range of sentences set by law. There are principles followed for determining a sentence. The sentence should:
The sentence should be proportionate to the degree of responsibility of the offender, and be based on sentences for similar crimes and circumstances from across the country.
As well, the person’s situation affects the judge’s decision. The judge considers such things as the person’s age, whether they are employed, and whether they suffer from a mental or physical illness. In some communities the judge conducts a sentencing circle. This involves community members such as Elders, friends, or neighbours gathering informally to discuss what sentence is appropriate. Sentencing circles may help make the person accountable to the community.