Examining Good Character as a Mitigating Factor in Canadian Sentencing
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China has long been sceptical on mitigating sentences based on the offender’s good character, while good character mitigation is widely accepted in Canada. This study was to examine the justification of good character mitigation in Canada so that China can better face the future choice in sentencing: whether to consider good character a mitigating factor. Through examining the use of good character in Canadian sentencing practice, the justification of good character mitigation in Canada has been questioned. A three-part argument has been put forward to support the removal of good character as a mitigating factor in Canada: first, the workability of the very concept of “good character” is low; second, theoretical basis for mitigating sentences on good character is problematic; third, the present practice contributes to a form of status-based discrimination. This study shows that the justification of good character mitigation is not as strong as we have expected it to be. Even in Canada, a country which has good character mitigation with a long history, the consideration of good character as a mitigating factor needs further discussion. The adoption of good character mitigation in China should be more cautious.