Judge orders no surcharge
Chief Judge John Douglas refuses to order mandatory surcharge
A woman with serious mental health issues who was charged with assault won’t have to pay a victim surcharge, despite a law that makes it mandatory.
Chief Judge John Douglas made the decision not to impose the surcharge Tuesday in provincial court in Charlottetown.
The federal government made victim surcharges mandatory in 2013, taking away any discretion judges had prior to the change.
In some past cases, Douglas has used creative ways to get around the mandatory surcharges when the guilty parties didn’t have the ability to pay.
That included issuing small fines, which would mean the surcharge would be only a few dollars.
It’s also a tactic judges in some other provinces have been using to avoid surcharges in cases they say would create unreasonable sentences for people who can’t afford to pay.
But on Tuesday Douglas chose not to order the surcharge at all.
The woman sentenced Tuesday has been a patient at the Hillsborough Hospital for almost three years and is under the care of P.E.I.’s public guardian office.
Imposing a surcharge would seem to offend in a case like hers, Douglas said.
“It just makes no sense whatsoever.”