General Deterrence Legal Definition:

A sentencing objective which aims to discourage persons other than the offender, from committing a similar offence.

Related Terms: Sentence , Specific Deterrence

A sentencing objective which promotes the reduction of crime by the threat or example of punishment to the population at large.

Distinguished from specific deterrence where the sentence is adjusted with a view to deter the specific offender before the court.

See also deterrence, denunciation and specific deterrence.

In R. v. Innes, the Court of Appeal of Alberta used these words at ¶10:

"Specific deterrence refers to convincing this accused not to re-offend. It is often little needed by the time of sentencing.

"General deterrence refers to inducing others tempted to commit this offence not to do so. It is especially important with crimes involving premeditation or planning and persistence, and with crimes which are fairly common. Denunciation refers, in part, to convincing all the public that the offence in question is a true crime, a serious crime, one which respectable people would shun, and not obsolete, technical or minor. It also reassures the law-abiding, and informs everyone that the relationship between crime and punishment is considered, logical, and just."

In Li v. Canada, Justice Barnes of the Federal Court of Canada used this description at ¶17:

"The rationale for the principle of general deterrence in criminal sentencing is to send a message into the community."

 

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