The Department of Justice in Canada defines recidivism as the act of committing another crime after a prior offence. In other words, it describes the actions of those who reoffend after their first conviction.
Recidivism rates are used to measure how effective the criminal justice system is. If a high number of people are repeat offenders, this may indicate that their consequences were not an effective deterrent.
We’re going to examine how repeat offenders are treated in Canada’s criminal justice system:
A First Charge
Those who are charged with their first crime tend to receive lighter sentences than repeat offenders. While this will depend on the nature of their actions, judges are usually less harsh on those who have not previously been involved with the criminal justice system.
If you are charged with subsequent offences, what can you expect? In general, punishments are harsher for those who have already committed a criminal offence. The idea behind this is that a more serious sentence will deter future criminal activity.
For example, let’s imagine that Person A was convicted of an impaired driving offence. Person B was found guilty of the same crime. Even though their actions were identical, Person A will receive a harsher punishment because they had already been convicted in the past.
An individual who has committed several offences is considered to be a greater danger to the community. Someone who has committed five or more offences may be considered a chronic offender.
With many offences, there are minimum and maximum offences that can be issued. It is up to the judge’s discretion which to choose. If an individual has a history of criminal activity, the judge will be more likely to charge them with the maximum penalty.
Repeat offences make it more likely that you will receive the maximum penalty for a crime. You could be charged with a life sentence.
Lowering The Recidivism Rate
If prison sentences were the perfect solution to crime, then we would never see repeat offenders in our society. However, this is far from the case. In Canada, the recidivism rate is roughly 41%.
Even if an individual is not charged with a crime, any contact with the police can count as recidivism. What can law enforcers do to lower the likelihood that someone will re-offend? A few ways to do so are to:
- Follow-up with individuals after they are released from jail for 2-5 years.
- Provide drug rehabilitation programs for those who struggle with addiction.
- Give people the resources they need to build their careers and find stable housing.
Seeking An Appeal
If you’ve been convicted of past criminal offences and are facing new charges, you may be subject to bias and discrimination. Some may assume that you are guilty solely because of your past.
Are you seeking legal representation in Winnipeg? Our criminal lawyers at Brodsky Amy & Gould can help. We have extensive experience in all matters of the law, from murder charges to appeals. For more information contact one of our criminal defence lawyers.