Life Imprisonment as a Minimum Sentence with No Eligibility for Parole for 25 Years

Offenders convicted of high treason or first degree murder (murders involving planning and deliberation, the murder of police officers and prison guards while on duty, or murders committed during the course of sexual assaults or kidnapping) must be sentenced to life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole for 25 years. Provision has been made for a judicial review, whereby an offender may make an application to the court to have the parole ineligibility period reduced from 25 years after the inmate has served 15 years. Offenders who have committed multiple murders are not eligible to apply (Correctional Service of Canada, 1997, p. 64).

Life Imprisonment as a Minimum Sentence with No Eligibility for Parole for 10 to 25 Years

Offenders convicted of second degree murder are those whose crime is viewed as unintentional homicide which did not involve any of the elements comprising first degree murder. They are sentenced to life imprisonment and are not eligible for parole for at least 10 years. The parole eligibility date in this case is set by the trial judge and, while the date set must be at least 10 years, it can be set as high as 25 years. Application for a judicial review is also allowed, should the parole eligibility date set by the trial judge exceed 15 years (Criminal Code of Canada, 1998, Section 745).

Life as a Maximum Sentence

For some offenses, life imprisonment is the maximum sentence which can be given. Examples of crimes subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment are robbery, aggravated sexual assault and break and enter of a dwelling house. In cases where life imprisonment is the maximum sentence that can be applied, parole eligibility is set at 7 years (Criminal Code of Canada, 1998).

Intermediate Sentences Imposed on “Dangerous Offenders”

The court may impose indeterminate sentences on any individual it considers, upon conducting a special hearing after conviction, a Dangerous Offender. This provision applies to those offenders who have been convicted of serious personal injury offenses and who have backgrounds of persistent aggressive or violent behaviour. A Dangerous Offender becomes eligible for parole after 7 years and must have his or her case reviewed at that time and every 2 years thereafter.