Environmental Law Reading Reflection Sentencing


EnvironmentalLaw Reading Reflection: Sentencing

Thereare several guiding principles that the judges follow when making aruling regarding cases about environmental issues. The sentencingfrom the rulings ensures that the guilty and those liable foroffences that result in harm to the environment receive theappropriate punishment. The sentencing is usually in a way that theoffenders get the opportunity for reformation of their behavior. Thispaper will center on presenting the special considerations by thecourts in the determination of sentences when dealing withenvironmental cases as well as the mitigating factors they recognizefor the defendant(s).

Environmentaloffences are those which result into environmental damages. TheEnvironment Quality Act of Quebec stipulates that it is illegal toallow discharge or contamination to the environment that has thelikelihood of life or welfare of human beings, wildlife, vegetation,soil, or property (Reading 2, 160). The Ontario Water Resource Actalso stipulates that any discharge or permission to discharge intowater that has the potential of causing impairment into the qualityof the water is an offence. Similar to this Acts is the FederalFisheries Act which states that it is against the law to deposit orallow deposition of any harmful materials into water frequented byfish (Reading 2, 162). The regulatory or public welfare offencesdescribe the offences in an environmental context. The regulatorylegislation ensures the protection of the public against potentiallyharmful effects. The protection is through regulatory measures whoseobjective is to prevent future harm through enforcement of standardsof care and conduct (Paul and Amanda, 2015).

Aneffective sentence in environmental cases is that which follows theset principles and objectives of environmental law. The sentencingprinciples and objectives in Nova Scotia include deterring andrehabilitating, ensure the practice of respect for the set laws,differentiating between the potential and the actual harm to theenvironment, and considerations of the economy of the land (Peter,2007). In the sentencing process of environmental law offenders,there is a consideration of several factors. The sentences that canbe passed include criminal sanctions, fines, and court orders. Inthis regard, there are special considerations by the courts whenpassing a sentence of the law offenders.

Whenpassing a sentence of environmental offenders, there are specialconsiderations by the courts. There is a special consideration thecourt places on the nature of the environment in question whenpassing a sentence. The court should give a judgment basing on thenature of the environment being harmed or facing a potential harm(Nova Scotia, Ca. 2016). For instance, areas unique and rare floraand fauna, recreational watersheds, crucial wildlife environmentrequire special care by the users. Such areas are sensitive and couldany harm, or potential harm to such areas attracts heaviercondemnation and sentencing as opposed to less sensitive areas.

Thedegree of damage and harm to the environment is a determinant in theinfliction of penalties to the culprits who break the environmentallaws (Reading 2, 187). The capacity of the environment to get back tothe original status after the damage is also a crucial factor in thedetermination of the sentence to be passed. In a scenario where thedamage is not reversible, a heavier sentencing is given as opposed tothe situation where the damage is easily repairable. In otherinstances, the courts should consider the potential harm of theactions to the environment when giving sentences. It is theresponsibility of the courts to observe with seriousness the judicialnotices on matters that revolve around harm or potential harm to theenvironment. There should be supporting evidence of the damage to theenvironment before passing any sentences on environmental harm.

Somefactors are considered for the defendant(s) when passing sentences.There are instances in which the courts alleviate the sentencespassed to the environmental lawbreakers. For example, in the eventwhere the defendant(s) is remorseful of their actions and pleadsguilty, the sentence may be mitigated. Again, where the defendant(s)is an individual, the fine or the penalty may be lighter than in anevent where the offender is a corporation. The sentence passed on acorporation should be lighter where there is supporting evidence thatthe corporation undertook the necessary measures in complying withthe regulations set by the government (Peter, 2007).

Ina recap, potential harm and damage to the environment constitute athreat to the environment and the occupants herein. For instance,harm to the environment translates to potential damage to the human,plant, water, and animals. As a result, there has been thedevelopment of Acts to help deal with the culprits found to cause thepotential harm to the environment. The courts have the task ofpassing sentences to the culprits in breaking environmental laws. Thepassing of the sentences is done under the guidance of laid downrules and regulations by the government. There are instances in whichspecial consideration are made in passing the sentence as well asmitigating factors the courts consider when passing a sentence whichhave been discussed above.


NovaScotia. Ca. (2016). NovaScotia Environment-Department. Retrieved16 March 2016, from http://www.novascotia.ca/nse.

Paul,M. &amp Amanda, K. (2015). ImplementingEnvironmental Law. Northampton,Massachusetts: Edward Elgar Publishing Company.

Peter,M. (2007). AGuide to Environmental Law for Nova Scotians. Canada:Halifax, N.S.: Public Legal Education Society of Nova Scotia.