Judge or­ders no sur­charge

Chief Judge John Dou­glas re­fuses to or­der manda­tory sur­charge

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE PROVINCE - BY RYAN ROSS THE GUARDIAN rross@the­guardian.pe.ca twit­ter.com/ryan­r­ross

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.”

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