New B.C. bail policy for Crown prosecutors aims to address 'repeat violent offenders'

B.C.'s attorney general has issued new directions for Crown counsel in cases of 'repeat violent offenders' facing new charges. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca - image credit)
B.C.'s attorney general has issued new directions for Crown counsel in cases of 'repeat violent offenders' facing new charges. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca - image credit)

Crown prosecutors across B.C. have been told to ask judges to keep suspected criminals deemed "repeat violent offenders" behind bars while awaiting trial on new violence or gun charges under a new directive from the province.

The B.C. Prosecution Service said it is immediately implementing the revised bail policy, which says Crown must seek detention in these cases "unless they are satisfied … that the risk to public safety posed by the accused's release can be reduced to an acceptable level by bail conditions."

Attorney General Murray Rankin told reporters Tuesday that while the new policy doesn't mean judges will grant Crown's requests, he's "convinced that this will make a difference" in what he sees as a real problem.

"The directive makes clear that repeat violent offenders have to be addressed as a serious issue," Rankin said.

Under the policy, repeat violent offenders are defined as "anyone with one or more recent convictions for an offence against the person … or an offence involving a weapon."

The Criminal Code of Canada defines an offence against the person as anything from child abandonment and criminal negligence to assault and homicide.

Crown has been told to ask for these people to be kept in jail if they've been charged with new offences meeting the same criteria. The previous advice was that prosecutors should only ask for detention if a conviction could reasonably result in jail time.

Prosecutors have also been asked to consider requesting detention before trial if the accused has other similar outstanding charges or has allegedly breached bail conditions or weapons prohibitions.