Canada high court rules against property forfeiture in drug proceeding

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] ruled [judgment text] Friday that a convicted marijuana grower should not have to forfeit her house pursuant to a sentence since asset forfeiture may result in unequal treatment of convicted criminals. The court, reviewing a Court of Appeal for British Columbia [official website] ruling [judgment text], rejected the lower court's totality approach that combined terms of imprisonment and property forfeiture on the grounds that the result of such sentencing will unfairly advantage property owners over those who have no property available for forfeiture. Since a totality approach would likely allow those who own property available for forfeiture to trade those assets to avoid some or all of the imposed jail time, the court reasoned that such an approach would be unjust as it would "result in lengthier custodial terms" for those who do not own property available for forfeiture. The court found that asset forfeiture is discrete and distinct from other aspects of sentencing and should be considered separately.

At her trial, Craig pleaded guilty and was conditionally sentenced to 12 months and fined $100,000. Her home in which she maintained the grow operation was valued [CBC report] at $460,000.

 

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