CCLA intervened in the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R. v. Manning, which looks at which factors a court may consider when ordering the forfeiture of an offender’s property. Originally created to permit the forfeiture of tools of crime by organized crime rings, the provision has since expanded to allow for forfeitures in many other circumstances.
In this case, Mr. Manning was convicted of impaired driving. He had similar prior convictions. He was given a 17 month jail sentence, and banned from driving for 5 years. However the Quebec trial court and Court of Appeal did not agree to forfeiture of his vehicle, given that Mr. Manning was unemployed, living on social assistance, and that he and his spouse relied on the vehicle to get food, clothing, and to get to the hospital.
CCLA does not have a principled objection to the forfeiture of property in appropriate circumstances. We intervened in this case to make the argument that if courts are considering forfeiture, they must consider the totality of the offender’s circumstances, and consider others who will be impacted, such as the family, dependants, and affected others, as well as whether the property is used primarily for non-criminal purposes. This is consistent with fundamental principles of criminal and constitutional law.
CCLA argued that: “Forfeiture of goods that are used predominantly for lawful purposes, particularly where this forfeiture effectively punishes innocent family members for the offender’s crime, would risk undermining Canadians’ sense of fairness and trust in the criminal justice system.”
CCLA was represented by Catherine Beagan Flood and Joshua A. Krane (Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP).
To read CCLA’s factum, click here.