Credit for Pre-sentence Custody

AuthorSteve Coughlan/Alex Gorlewski
382 Post-trial Matters / Special Post-conviction Procedures
4.2(e) Credit for Pre-sentence Custody
1 : 1 days’ credit
1.5 : 1 days’ credit
“[I]f the circumstances justify it”2
Oender detained
because bail was
Other reasons
for denying
enhanced credit4
As stated in ss 719(1) and (4) of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46 [Code], a
sentence of imprisonment begins when it is imposed — or if an oender is
not yet in custody, when they are “arrested and taken into custody under the
sentence.” If they have spent any time in custody before then, s 719(3) of the
Code allows a court to credit it to the sentence it imposes on them. Although
the section uses discretionary language, stating that “a court may take into
account any time spent in custody . . . as a result of the oence” [emphasis
added], the courts have developed a rm rule that “[a] day of [pre-sentence]
incarceration requires at least a credit of one day towards the sentence”: R v
Summers, 2014 SCC 26 at para 21. This chart represents this 1:1-day minimum
with the solid circle at its centre; the issue that the rest of the chart — and the
law around credit for pre-sentence custody generally — addresses is when a
court should give an oender more than the minimum.
Until 2010, s 719(3) did not specify when the courts could give oenders en-
hanced credit — that is, credit beyond the 1:1-day minimum — or how much.
A practice had developed among sentencing judges, however, of giving out
enhanced credit by default, usually at a ratio of two days’ credit for each day in

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