Defence lawyer obtains 1:1 credit for bail conditions at sentence

January 27, 2021

On February 10, 2021, the Alberta Provincial Court in Calgary released a sentencing decision in the case R v Foster, in which the accused had been convicted of two drug possession offences and seven firearms offences. The prosecutor wanted him to serve a 3-year prison sentence, but the defence lawyer ensured no further period of incarceration was imposed.

The sentencing judge quoted the Alberta Court of Appeal’s statement that “one of the more notorious crimes associated with drug trafficking is the possession and use of firearms…Mere possession of loaded firearms is inherently dangerous. When such weapons are allowed in the community, death and serious injury are literally at hand, only an impulse and trigger-pull away.”

The sentencing judge quoted further precedent that “[i]t is necessary, in my view, to send a clear, strong message to others who might be tempted to move about in the community with loaded handguns that such conduct will not be tolerated. Society expects it…”

The accused used a lawyer from the Alberta Bail Office to secure his release on bail before trial, and he had spent over a year out on bail before the sentencing. Defence lawyer Sean Fagan persuaded the Court to give the accused credit for prison time: each day he’d spent on the bail conditions negotiated by the Alberta Bail Office counted as a day in jail for the purpose of his sentence.

Because the remaining sentence was so short, the sentencing judge agreed to allow the accused to serve it in the community. Even though he was eventually convicted of serious crimes, the accused didn’t need to serve a day in prison after the Alberta Bail Office secured his release on bail.

It is critical to retain a lawyer with a comprehensive understanding of the law and extensive experience in defending criminal prosecutions.

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