R. v. Hess; R. v. Nguyen, (1990) 119 N.R. 353 (SCC)

JudgeLamer, C.J.C., Wilson, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier and McLachlin, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateOctober 04, 1990
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1990), 119 N.R. 353 (SCC);50 CRR 71;[1990] SCJ No 91 (QL);79 CR (3d) 332;[1990] 6 WWR 289;11 WCB (2d) 199;[1990] 2 SCR 906;46 OAC 13;59 CCC (3d) 161;JE 90-1424;119 NR 353;1990 CanLII 89 (SCC);73 Man R (2d) 1

R. v. Hess (1990), 119 N.R. 353 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

.........................

Victor John Hess (appellant) v. Her Majesty The Queen (respondent) and Van Hung Nguyen (appellant) v. Her Majesty The Queen (respondent)

(Nos. 20809, 21392)

Indexed As: R. v. Hess; R. v. Nguyen

Supreme Court of Canada

Lamer, C.J.C., Wilson, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier and McLachlin, JJ.

October 4, 1990.

Summary:

The accused males were charged with having sexual intercourse with a female person under the age of 14 contrary to s. 146(1) of the Criminal Code (now repealed).

The trial judge stayed prosecution against Hess, holding that s. 146(1) was contrary to s. 15 of the Charter and unconstitutional because the section subjected only males to prosecution. The Crown appealed the stay.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a decision reported 25 O.A.C. 43; 40 C.C.C.(3d) 193, allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial. Hess appealed.

Nguyen was convicted at trial and appealed on the grounds that the section violated ss. 7 and 15 of the Charter. The Manitoba Court of Appeal in a judgment reported [1989] 3 W.W.R. 646; 57 Man.R.(2d) 267, dismissed the appeal. Nguyen appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada (Sopinka, J., concurring in result only; McLachlin and Gonthier, JJ., dissenting) allowed the appeals and ordered new trials.

Civil Rights - Topic 726

Liberty - Charter - Denial of liberty - What constitutes - Section 146(1) of the Criminal Code made it an offence for a male person to have sexual intercourse with a female person under the age of 14 whether or not he believed she was under age 14 - The Supreme Court of Canada held that an offence punishable by imprisonment that does not allow at a minimum the defence of due diligence infringes the s. 7 Charter right to liberty - Section 7 of the Charter mandates mens rea as an element of an offence - See paragraphs 3 to 15.

Civil Rights - Topic 768

Liberty - Offences - Absolute liability - Validity - Sexual intercourse with a female under the age of 14 was an offence under s. 146(1) of the Criminal Code whether or not the accused knew that the girl was under 14 - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the section violated the accused's fundamental right to liberty under s. 7 of the Charter by removing the defence of honest mistake - The section was not demonstrably justified under s. 1 of the Charter - The offending words were struck from the section under s. 52(1) of the Constitution Act and a new trial was ordered under the amended section - See paragraphs 1 to 58.

Civil Rights - Topic 1130

Discrimination - Criminal law - On basis of sex - Sexual offences - The Criminal Code, s. 146(1), made it an offence for a male person to have sexual intercourse with a female person under the age of 14 - A majority of the Supreme Court of Canada held that s. 146(1) was not discriminatory and did not infringe s. 15(1) of the Charter although only men are charged and only females are complainants - See paragraphs 35 to 46.

Civil Rights - Topic 5645

Equality and protection of the law - Particular cases - Sexual offences - [See Civil Rights - Topic 1130].

Civil Rights - Topic 8305

Charter - General - Application of - Persons protected - Section 28 of the Charter guaranteed Charter rights equally to men and women - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that s. 28 did not prevent Parliament from creating an offence that as a matter of biological fact could only be committed by one sex - It did prevent a denial of Charter rights that are guaranteed to all persons and a justification of the denial under s. 1, on account of the accused's sex - See paragraphs 47 to 50.

Civil Rights - Topic 8348

Charter - Application - Exceptions - Reasonable limits prescribed by law (Charter, s. 1) - Section 146(1) of the Criminal Code made it an offence for a male person to have sexual intercourse with a female under age 14 whether or not he believed she was under 14 - The Supreme Court of Canada held that s. 146(1) violated the accused's s. 7 Charter right to liberty and was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter - The court applied the tests of legislative objective, rational connection and minimal impairment and considered arguments respecting deterence, sentencing and Criminal Code amendments and held that the section was not a reasonable limit - See paragraphs 16 to 34.

Civil Rights - Topic 8380.14

Charter - Denial of rights - Remedies - Severance of portion of statute or section - Section 146(1) of the Criminal Code made it an offence for a male person to have sexual intercourse with a female person under age 14 "whether or not be believes that she is fourteen years of age or more" - The Supreme Court of Canada held that s. 146(1) infringed s. 7 of the Charter and was not saved by s. 1 of the Charter (see paragraphs 3 to 34) - The remedy pursuant to s. 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, was to expunge the offending words from the section and to retry the accused under the amended section - See paragraphs 51 to 54.

Criminal Law - Topic 700

Sexual offences - Sexual intercourse with female under age 14 - [See Civil Rights - Topic 1130].

Criminal Law - Topic 700

Sexual offences - Sexual intercourse with female under age 14 - [See Civil Rights - Topic 768].

Cases Noticed:

R. v. Stevens, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 1153; 86 N.R. 85; 28 O.A.C. 243, refd to. [para. 4].

R. v. Sault Ste. Marie, [1978] 2 S.C.R. 1299; 21 N.R. 295; 85 D.L.R.(3d) 161; 3 C.R.(3d) 30; 40 C.C.C.(2d) 353, refd to. [para. 5].

R. v. Pappajohn, [1980] 2 S.C.R. 120; 32 N.R. 104, refd to. [para. 5].

Reference Re Section 94(2) of the Motor Vehicle Act (B.C.), [1985] 2 S.C.R. 486; 63 N.R. 266; 24 D.L.R.(4th) 536; [1986] 1 W.W.R. 481; 48 C.R.(3d) 289; 69 B.C.L.R. 145; 36 M.V.R. 240; 18 C.R.R. 30; 23 C.C.C.(3d) 289, refd to. [paras. 7, 69].

R. v. Vaillancourt, [1987] 2 S.C.R. 636, refd to. [paras. 9, 69].

R. v. Ferguson (1987), 16 B.C.L.R.(2d) 273, disapprvd. [para. 16]; refd to. [para. 63].

R. v. Oakes, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 103; 65 N.R. 87; 14 O.A.C. 335; 36 D.L.R.(4th) 200; 50 C.R.(3d) 1; 24 C.C.C.(3d) 321; 19 C.R.R. 308, appld. [paras. 16, 85].

Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 143; 91 N.R. 255, refd to. [paras. 37, 73].

R. v. Turpin, Siddiqui and Clauzel, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1296; 96 N.R. 115; 34 O.A.C. 115, refd to. [paras. 37, 75].

R. v. Groombridge (1836), 7 Car. & P. 581; 173 E.R. 256, refd to. [para. 42].

R. v. Waite, [1892] 2 Q.B. 600, refd to. [para. 42].

United States v. Carolene Products Co. (1938), 304 U.S. 144, refd to. [para. 77].

R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295; [1985] 3 W.W.R. 481; 58 N.R. 81; 60 A.R. 161; 18 C.C.C.(3d) 385; 18 D.L.R.(4th) 321; 37 Alta. L.R.(2d) 97; 85 C.L.L.C. 14,023; 13 C.R.R. 64, refd to. [para. 81].

Re MacVicar and Superintendent of Family and Child Services (1986), 34 D.L.R.(4th) 488 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 82].

Michael M. v. Superior Court of Sonoma County (1981), 450 U.S. 464, refd to. [para. 90].

R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30; 82 N.R. 1; 26 O.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 98].

Edmonton Journal v. Alberta (Attorney General), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 1326; 102 N.R. 321; 103 A.R. 321, refd to. [para. 113].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 1 [paras. 1, 2, 15, 16, 34, 38, 48-50, 55-57, 62, 65-67, 76, 82, 85, 86, 97, 102, 106, 111 et seq.]; sect. 7 [paras. 1-4, 9, 22, 28, 32, 35, 48, 50, 55-57, 64-69, 87, 109, 119, 127]; sect. 15 [paras. 2, 37, 57, 62 et seq.]; sect. 15(1) [paras. 1, 35 to 46, 55]; sect. 15(2) [para. 82]; sect. 28 [paras. 2, 47, 66, 79]; sect. 33 [para. 34].

Constitution Act, 1982, sect. 52(1) [paras. 51, 52].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1970, c. C-34, sect. 3(6) [paras. 2, 42]; sect. 140 [para. 2]; sect. 146(1) [paras. 1 et seq.]; sect. 147 [paras. 2, 42, 126]; sect. 155 [paras. 44, 45]; sect. 663 [paras. 22, 120].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 150.1(4) [para. 31]; sect. 151, sect. 152 [paras. 31, 32]; sect. 737 [paras. 22, 120].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1846), Book IV, p. 21 [para. 12].

Canada Law Reform Commission, Criminal Law: Sexual Offences (Working Paper 22) (1978), pp. 25-26 [para. 95].

Coke, Sir Edward, Third Institutes of the Laws of England, p. 6 [para. 12].

Howard, The Protection of Principle under a Criminal Code (1962), 25 Mod. L. Rev. M.L.R. 190, p. 190 [para. 12].

Kenny's Outlines of Criminal Law (19th Ed. 1966), p. 7 [para. 11].

MacNamera and Sagarin, Sex, Crime and the Law (1977), p. 80 [para. 20].

Raymond, Paul E., The Origin and Rise of Moral Liability in Anglo-Saxon Criminal Law (1936), 15 Or. L. Rev. 93, p. 117 [para. 11].

Stroud, Mens Rea (1914), pp. 10-14 [para. 12].

Counsel:

Henry S. Brown, for the appellant Hess;

Stanley Nozick, for the appellant Nguyen;

Gregory J. Fitch, Shawn Greenberg and Marva Smith, for the respondent.

Solicitors of Record:

Gowling, Strathy & Henderson, Ottawa, Ontario, for the appellant Hess;

Nozick, Sinder & Associates, Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the appellant Nguyen;

Gregory J. Fitch, Toronto, Ontario, and the Attorney General for the Province of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the respondent.

These appeals were heard on February 1, 1990, before Lamer, C.J.C., Wilson, La Forest, L'Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier and McLachlin, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On October 4, 1990, the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

Wilson, J. (Lamer, C.J.C., La Forest and L'Heureux-Dubé, JJ., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 55;

Sopinka, J. (concurring in result) - see paragraphs 56 to 58;

McLachlin, J., dissenting (Gonthier, J., concurring) - see paragraphs 59 to 128.

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