Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Danger to Society Definition:

Where an offender would engage in conduct, the consequences of which would be grave or serious for society.

Related Terms: Habitual Offender, Long-Term Offender, Abate

In McGarry v R., the High Court of Australia wrote, at ¶20-23:

"Identifying the meaning of a danger to society ... is not without difficulty. A fundamental premise of the criminal law is that conduct is regarded as criminal for the very reason that its commission harms society, or some part of it. On that basis, any risk that an offender may commit some further indictable offence poses a danger to society, or some part of it; the extent of the danger would depend only upon the likelihood of the offender reoffending.

"The breadth of the matters upon which a conclusion of danger to society (or a part of it) may be based suggests that what is required is more than a bare conclusion that it is probable that the offender will commit some indictable offence in the future.... More than the probability of further offending must be shown.

"... were the offender to be released at the end of the nominal sentence, the offender would engage in conduct, the consequences of the commission of which would properly be called grave or serious for society as a whole, or for some part of it, then, and only then, could it be concluded that the offender would be a danger to society, or a part of it."

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