What Is an NCR Defence in Canada

May 30th, 2021 in Criminal Law FAQs
What Is an NCR Defence in Canada

This blog article will briefly discuss the NCR defence in Canada. Let us get started.

What does NCR mean?

NCR stands for “not criminally responsible.” An NCR is a rarely used defence, one that is difficult to prove in court, and is unlikely to result in an accused walking away “Scott-free.” An NCR defence is what is known in lay language as an insanity defence.

In order for an NCR defence to be successful, one of two things must be proven:

  1. Either the accused did know what he or she was doing when the offence was committed.
  2. Or the accused knew what he or she was doing but did not understand that is was wrong.

The purpose of the NCR defence, and why it exists in law, is to protect individuals suffering from mental illness who are so sick that they really do not know the difference between right and wrong. What makes this defence so hard to prove is that the defence applies to what was happening during the commission of a crime, which may be a long time before the trial takes place.

If an NCR defence is proven, does the accused walk away free?

If an NCR defence is successful, the court deems that an offence was committed but the individual who committed the offence was not criminally responsible while that offence was committed. This does not mean that the offender walks away free.

There are three options available to the court or Review Board following a successful NCR defence: the offender may have an unconditional release, a conditional release, or may be detained indefinitely.

While the public may have the perception that an NCR defence is a way to get away with a serious crime, and it is possible under the law for an offender to be released, what is most likely to happen is the offender will be remanded to a psychiatric facility for some unknown length of time. Then, a Review Board determines when the offender may be released back into society. Please note that these psychiatric facilities are for criminals, and they are not country clubs or “easy outs.”

Your defence lawyer is the best judge of what type of defence should be used in any specific criminal case. For the reasons noted above, an NCR defence is very rarely used in Canada.

Michael Bloom is a very experienced criminal defence lawyer, who started his career as a Crown Prosecutor.

If you have any questions about this article or would like to schedule a free consultation with Mr. Bloom, please call his office at (604) 603-5513 or Toll-Free at (877) 603-5513.

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