Court of Appeal of Quebec

R. c. Lefrançois

October 26, 2018


Bélanger, C. Gagnon, Ruel

Appeal from a judgment sentencing the respondent to twelve months’ imprisonment and declaring the mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence under ss. 99(2)(a) and 103(2)(a) of the Criminal Code (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46) to be of no force or effect. Dismissed, with dissenting reasons.

Considered from the angle of limiting his lawful activities as a collector and shooting club member, the restrictions resulting from the charges and convictions are collateral effects likely to mitigate the general sentencing objective of deterrence. The indirect consequences of a sentence include all its effects on the specific offender. The weight and consequences that must be assigned vary from one case to the next and are determined according to the nature and seriousness of the offence. There is nothing to show that the judge assigned excessive weight to this one factor. On the contrary, he took it into consideration with moderation, as he did other, equally relevant factors.

It would not be appropriate to use the example of the respondent, who is not a criminal and who harboured no malicious intent, to attempt to deter criminals from importing weapons or prohibited devices into Canada for commercial purposes.

The respondent is not associated with organized crime, the degree of [translation] “sophistication” of the activities is rudimentary, the handgun is neither a long gun nor an automatic firearm, and there is no evidence that he was motivated by greed or that he has a criminal record. The respondent is a collector who stored his weapons in a locked storage box, with no plans to engage in commerce or cause any harm to public security. Despite its efforts during the respondent’s cross-examination, the appellant failed to establish the commercial aspect of the respondent’s activities.

The mitigating factors are predominant and clearly weigh in favour of the respondent’s rehabilitation. A sentence in a federal institution would not be appropriate. The judge did not fail to consider deterrence. At the hearing, the impleaded party conceded that, if the twelve-month sentence were upheld, the minimum three-year sentence would become entirely disproportionate in relation to the respondent. The judge’s conclusion that it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment for the respondent is well founded. 

According to the dissenting judge, the trial judge erred in principle in setting aside the minimum sentences for the offences of importing and manufacturing firearms and prohibited devices because they would be cruel and unusual.

*Summary by SOQUIJ
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