To Cooperate or Not to Cooperate; What are the consequences?

In December, 2015, the Court of Appeal of Ontario relaxed their judgement in R. v. Araya. The accused had been convicted of manslaughter. The ultimate issue to be decided at the Court of Appeal was whether the accused’s lack of co-operation with the police investigation was an aggravating factor on sentencing. There were three other suspects involved in the death of the victim, however, Mr. Araya refused to provide information to identify those assailants.

The Court held that an accused who co-operates with a police investigation is entitled to a mitigation of his sentence. However, an accused who does not co-operate is not subject to lengthier period of imprisonment; he simply does not get the benefit of mitigation.

This is a sensible decision for two reasons, as identified by the Court: (1) it reduces the possibility of false accusations and (2) it prevents an accused from repercussions for being a “snitch” in custody. Conversely, if the accused does not provide information he will not face the risk of an increased sentence.