Attorney General of Ontario v. G
(Ont.) (Criminal) (By Leave)
Constitutional law - Right to equality, Discrimination based on mental or physical disability, Remedy, Criminal law, Mental disorder - Charter of rights - Right to equality - Discrimination based on mental or physical disability - Remedy - Criminal law -Mental disorder - Respondent found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder in respect of sexual assault and other charges - Respondent granted absolute discharge but required to register under provincial sex offender registry and report to authorities for life, and required to register and report under federal registry - Application judge finding no breach under ss. 7 or 15 of Charter - Court of Appeal finding breach of s. 15 and declaring operation of sex offender registry legislation unconstitutional - Declaration of invalidity suspended for 12 months but respondent exempt from period of suspension - Whether sex offender registry legislation infringes right to equality without discrimination based on absence of individualized exceptions - If so, whether infringement is reasonable limit demonstrably justified in free and democratic society - Whether s. 15 of Charter requires individualized assessment before requiring persons found not criminally responsible who are granted absolute discharge to register and report under sex offender registry - Whether Court of Appeal erred in declining to follow R. v. Demers,  2 S.C.R. 489 and in granting individual relief to respondent during period of suspension of declaration of invalidity - Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 1 - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ss. 7, 15.
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(PUBLICATION BAN IN CASE)
In 2002, G was found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder on charges of sexual assault and other charges. In 2003, G was given an absolute discharge by the Ontario Review Board. However, pursuant to Christopher’s Law (Sex Offender Registry), 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 1, G was obliged to register under the provincial sex offender registry and report to provincial authorities for life. G was also required to register and report under the federal registry, pursuant to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, S.C. 2004, c. 10 (“SOIRA”). In 2014, G commenced legal proceedings seeking a declaration that the application of the federal and provincial sex offender registries to persons found not criminally responsible who are then granted a subsequent absolute discharge infringes their rights under ss. 7 and 15 of the Charter.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed G’s application. The application judge found that despite some negative impact resulting from the sex offender registry requirements, there was no s. 7 or s. 15 Charter breach. The Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously allowed G’s appeal and concluded that the provincial and federal sex offender registries infringe G’s s. 15 Charter rights (and those of individuals in his situation), and that such infringements cannot be saved under s. 1. In terms of remedy, the Court of Appeal declared Christopher’s Law and SOIRA to be of no force or effect in their application to individuals in G’s situation. It suspended the effect of the declaration for 12 months; however, it exempted G from this suspension.
The Attorney General of Ontario is appealing the portion of the Court of Appeal’s judgment granting an individual exemption from the period of suspension to G.
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