Is sentencing different if I’m Black?
Question & AnswerIs sentencing different if I’m Black?
If you're Black, you or your lawyer can give the judge information about how your race and cultural background may have affected your role in the crime. The judge can use this information to reduce your .
What is sentencing?
Your sentence is the punishment you get for your crime. The judge decides your sentence at a “sentencing hearing“.
At your sentencing hearing, you or your lawyer tell the judge what sentence you think is fair. You can give the judge information to help them decide the fair sentence. Read about the types of information you can give the judge in What is a sentencing hearing in a criminal case?
If you're Black, you can give the judge information about:
- systemic anti-Black racism, and
- how you've been personally affected by anti-Black racism.
You won't get a lower sentence just because you're Black. You must show the judge how you were personally affected by anti-Black racism.
The Crown Attorney also gives the judge information and tells the judge what sentence they think is fair.
Steps 1 and 2 explain how to give the judge information about your race and cultural background. Step 3 explains how a judge can use that information to lower your sentence. Step 4 talks about other information a judge uses when deciding your sentence.
New rules about sentences for Black people
There are new rules about sentencing for Black people. If you don't have a lawyer, you can help the judge understand the new rules by giving them a copy of a recent court decision called R v Morris.
If you can't get a printed copy, give the judge this case reference: “R. v. Morris, 2021 ONCA 680”. The judge can use it to look up the case on their own.
This case is important because it explains how and when a judge can use information about your race or cultural background to lower your sentence.