The Canadian Bar Insurance Association

Appeal win likely impossible in Baumgartner sentence

The precedent-setting sentencing of triple-murderer Travis Baumgartner was not too harsh, and will likely not be appealed because of the joint position put forward, says Toronto criminal lawyer J.S. Vijaya

A life sentence without parole for 25 years is a guarantee if a person is convicted of first-degree murder, says Vijaya, and given the fact Baumgartner, 22, killed three people in an armoured car robbery in 2012, “The cumulative sentence of forty years without parole, given the facts in this case, coupled with the state of our current law, is not out of the range in my respectful opinion.”

However, says Vijaya the policy of rehabilitation that is supposed to be attached to each offender, “in our midst is constantly and willfully being dismissed and mocked. The plain truth borne out of countless studies clearly show that general deterrence simply does not work in the real world. Most people who commit crime do not think about how other people have been punished for similar crime.”

Vijaya says the sentence doesn’t objectively raise the bar in overall sentencing for most offenders, due to the seemingly rare circumstances of the case. “Most people don’t get charged every day with triple homicide and attempt murder etc. In the rare case that an individual faces a similar set of charges with a similar fact pattern, their lawyer would be able to advise them with respect to what kind of sentence they would likely receive even on a guilty plea.

Because of the joint position put forward by the Crown and the defence lawyer in the case, “the accused knew in advance the type of sentence he would receive and what he would be pleading to. He would have been advised that regardless of what the Crown and the defence submitted, the presiding judge would have the final say in the punishment he received. More than likely Mr. Baumgartner signed a written agreement acknowledging that he understood these stipulations.

“It would be almost impossible after the fact to appeal the sentence that he received.”

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