Long term offender designation

The Long-Term Offender (LTO) designation was created in 1997, primarily targeting sexual offenders. The legislation was developed in response to concerns that many sexual and violent offenders required specific attention, even though they did not meet the criteria for a dangerous offender designation. The LTO designation is given to individuals convicted of a "serious personal injury offence" who, on the evidence, are likely to re-offend. Offenders who can be managed through a regular sentence, along with a specific period of federal supervision in the community, can be designated a LTO that can result in a term of supervision of up to 10 years after an offender's release.

Criminal Code Provisions

In 1997, Parliament amended Part XXIV of the Criminal Code to create the "long-term offender" designation to help deal with offenders who are not captured by the dangerous offender provisions, but still present a high-risk of committing future sexual offences.

The following are the highlights of LTO provisions, as amended in 2008:

  • Threshold Offence: Offenders convicted of and awaiting sentencing for a "serious personal injury offence" can be made the subject of a LTO application, as can those convicted of any offence referred to in s. 753.1(2)(a).
  • Long-term offender criteria: To conclude that an offender is a LTO under s. 753.1(1), the court has to be satisfied that:
    1. a prison sentence of two or more years would be appropriate for the current offence;
    2. there is a substantial risk that the offender will reoffend causing death, injury or other serious harm in the future; and
    3. there is a reasonable possibility the risk the offender presents can eventually be controlled is in the community.
  • Notice of Intent: When an offender is convicted of a third designated offence, the prosecution, at its earliest opportunity, must declare in open court whether it intends to make an application to have the offender remanded for an assessment: s.752.01.
  • Investigation: The preparations for a LTO application require the participation and investigative resources of police, prosecutorial and correctional authorities.
  • Assessment: As with dangerous offender applications, before a LTO application can be made, the prosecution has to apply to have the offender remanded in custody to have an assessment done by court-appointed experts. The experts are usually psychiatrists, other mental health professionals and/or correctional specialists: s. 752.1.
  • Hearing: Like dangerous offender applications, a judge without jury hears LTO applications: s. 754 (2).
  • AG's consent: The responsible provincial Attorney General has to consent to the LTO application before the court will hear it: s. 754(1). Consent is not needed for an application to remand the offender for an assessment.
  • Notice of grounds: The prosecution has to give the offender a notice "outlining the basis on which it is intended to found the application" at least seven days before the LTO hearing : s. 754(1).
  • Sentence: When individuals are found to be LTOs, the court must impose a sentence of at least two years in prison followed by long-term supervision in the community for a maximum of ten years: s. 753.1 (3).
  • Long-term supervision: LTOs and dangerous offenders who are sentenced to long-term supervision, are placed in the community, under Correctional Service of Canada supervision, after the warrant expiry dates of all prison sentences have past. Offenders under long-term supervision are subject to the standard parole conditions set out in the regulations to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, as well as any special condition that the Parole Board of Canada might impose in individual case. The conditions are not established by the sentencing court: s. 753.2 (1).
  • Suspension: If an offender who is under a long-term supervision order breaches any of the conditions of that order, or there are other reasons to believe that there is a risk that that the offender will re-offend, Correctional Service of Canada can suspend the order and have the individual arrested. Once arrested, the Correctional Service has up to 30 days to review the offender's case and decide whether to return them to the community or to hold them for up to 60 days pending a review of the case by the Parole Board of Canada. In such cases, the board has a number of options, including recommending that the offender be charged with breach of long-term supervision.
  • Breach of Order: An offender who fails or refuses to abide by the conditions of a long-term supervision order is liable to a sentence of up to ten years in prison: s. 753.3.

For more information:

The Investigation, Prosecution and Correctional Management of High-Risk Offenders:  A National Guide