Supreme Court of Canada to review mandatory minimum penalties for armed robbery

The Supreme Court will review decisions of lower courts that declared mandatory minimums for gun use during a crime violated the Canadian constitution. 

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will examine minimum sentences for armed robbery, the second case involving mandatory firearms penalties the top court has recently agreed to hear.

The latest decision flows from two matters that were considered together by Alberta's Court of Appeal following convictions.

In the first case, Ocean Hilbach pleaded guilty to a 2017 robbery in Edmonton while using a prohibited firearm, which carried a minimum sentence of five years.

In the second, Curtis Zwozdesky pleaded guilty to a 2016 robbery with a gun in Caslan, Alta., an offence with a minimum penalty of four years.

In each case the mandatory minimum penalties for these offences were declared unconstitutional — decisions upheld by the Court of Appeal in a ruling last September.

As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for consenting to hear the Crown's application for review. No date has been set for a hearing.

Last month the top court agreed to look at the constitutionality of a mandatory minimum penalty of four years in prison for recklessly firing a gun.

Another wrinkle is the recent federal tabling of a bill to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for many firearms-related offences, excluding some more serious ones involving restricted or prohibited guns.

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