The lawyer representing Michael Nehass says the Crown hasn’t done enough to warrant having her client assessed to be a dangerous offender or long-term offender.
Even though the threshold is low when it comes to ordering someone be psychologically assessed, it is not enough to just point at their criminal record and leave it at that, Sarah Rauch told Yukon Supreme Court judge Scott Brooker on Friday.
Brooker has reserved his decision whether to order an assessment. He said he’ll issue a written decision soon, but did not provide a specific date.
Nehass was convicted by a jury in May of forcible confinement, aggravated assault and breaching his probation after attacking a woman in Watson Lake in December 2011. He plans to appeal.
The 31-year-old has been in jail since then, spending most of his time in some form of segregation, away from the general jail population.
Being labelled a dangerous or long-term offender would impact Nehass’s eventual sentence. A long-term offender can get up to 10 years probation after he or she is released. A dangerous offender could be locked up indefinitely.
Last week’s arguments aren’t about whether Nehass deserves either of those labels. They’re just about whether the assessment should be ordered. Then it will be up to the Crown to decide what to do.
Rauch has filed an application with the court to have everything put on hold until the court hears arguments over whether the way Nehass has been treated at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre violates his rights.
That has been scheduled for two weeks starting in February.
She officially filed the charter application last week.
Nehass made headlines around the country in 2014 when he was ordered to a video court appearance. Guards brought him in shackled and naked.
The charter application argues that his time in confinement and being brought to court naked “have directly threatened and undermined his physical and psychological integrity.”
It says Nehass doesn’t have faith in the justice system, the government or the state’s ability to keep people safe.
Nehass has spent almost all of his adult life in jail.
Prosecutor Eric Marcoux says he has 40 convictions, 16 of which are for some type of violence. Many of the offences occurred while Nehass was serving time, he said.
He’s shown a failure to be able to restrain his behaviour, persistent aggression and a likelihood that he could do it again, Marcoux said. That’s enough to at least order an assessment.
Rauch argued that there is not enough detail on the record about exactly what happened to lead to those convictions. The nature of the crimes has to be explored further. The Crown hasn’t done that, she said.
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