New & Notable: What a difference a day makes

Being convicted and sentenced for a criminal offence has many consequences.  Some, like loss of liberty, are easily identifiable.  Others can be more properly characterized as collateral.  For Hoang Pham it was a collateral consequence that led to his appearance before our nation’s highest court: 2013 SCC 15


Mr. Pham, a non-citizen, was a drug dealer with a criminal record.  After being convicted of two drug offences, a joint submission was placed before the court for a two-year penitentiary sentence.  The sentencing judge agreed and the offender was sentenced to two years.  Unbeknownst to any of the parties, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act [IRPA], a non-citizen sentenced in Canada to a term of imprisonment of at least two years loses the right to appeal a removal order against him or her.

Upon coming to this realization, Mr. Pham appealed his sentence, asking for a reduction of one day to allow him to appeal the deportation order.  The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the sentence holding that a reduction in sentence would only seek to undermine the IRPA and that the offender “had abused the hospitality afforded to him by Canada”.  Mr. Pham appealed to the Supreme Court.

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