In addition to any other punishment imposed upon an offender at a sentencing hearing for an offence under the Criminal Code or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a judge is mandated to impose a victim surcharge (Criminal Code s. 737).
The standard amount of the surcharge will be familiar to most practitioners (Code s. 737(2)):
- 30% of any fine that is imposed; and
- where no fine is imposed, $100 for a summary offence and $200 for an indictable offence.
It is important, however, not to overlook a judge’s authority to elevate the amount of the victim surcharge “if the court considers it appropriate in the circumstances and is satisfied that the offender is able to pay the higher amount” (Code s. 737(3)).
While it is rare for judges to invoke this section, a client should always be aware of the potential for the Court to raise the surcharge in the absence of a joint submission on sentence.
If a client is able to pay more than the standard amount, counsel may want to give due consideration to a recommendation for an elevated victim surcharge when trying to persuade the Crown or the Court that a discharge would be an appropriate disposition.