What Are Potential Sentences For a Finding of Guilt for a Criminal Offence?

July 28, 2016


A judge is responsible for determining your sentence after a finding of guilt for a criminal offence
A judge is responsible for determining your sentence after a finding of guilt for a criminal offence

The following are potential sentences for a person found guilty of criminal offence:

What is an Absolute Discharge?

  • An absolute discharge is the most lenient adult sentence that someone can receive.
  • A finding of guilt is made but no conviction is registered, as well the individual is not given any conditions to follow.
  • Their criminal charges are resolved, as they are not bond by any probation order or other conditions.
  • However, an absolute discharge will stay on an individual’s criminal record for one year after the date they received the sentence, before it is removed form their record.

What is a Conditional Discharge?

  • A conditional discharge is the second most lenient sentence an individual found guilty of a criminal offence can receive.
  •  A finding of guilt is made, but no conviction is registered.
  • It is more severe than an absolute discharge as the individual is bond by conditions in the form of a probation order that that they must follow after sentencing for a period of time of one to three years.
  • A conditional discharge will appear on a person’s criminal record for three years after the completion of the probation order before it is automatically removed.

What is a Suspended Sentence?

  • A suspended sentence is the third most lenient sentence a person found guilty of a criminal offence can receive.
  • If given a suspended sentence the person will not be incarcerated, they will be bond by a probation conditions for a period of one to three years.
  • If someone receives a suspended sentence they will have a finding of guilt registered on their criminal record.
  • The finding of guilt may eventually be removed from their record by way of a pardon.

What is Probation?

  • Probation is a court order that bonds someone by conditions that they must abide by for the length of the order.
  • If someone receives a conditional discharge or a suspended sentence they will be ordered to follow a probation order for period of time.
  • A probation order can also be combined with a fine, a conditional sentence, intermittent imprisonment, or imprisonment.
  • The maximum length of a probation order is three years.

Every probation order will have the following conditions:

  •  Keep the peace and be of good behaviour;
  •  Appear in court when ordered by the court;
  • Inform the court or probation officer about any change of name, address or job.

Additional conditions sometimes included as part of a probation order are:

  •  report to a probation officer
  • not buy, carry, or drink alcohol;
  • not have or use drugs that aren’t prescribed by a doctor;
  • not have or carry any weapons;
  •  perform community service;
  • stay away from a certain person or persons;
  • stay away from certain locations;
  • not to communicate with certain person or persons;
  • pay restitution to a complainant
  • go to counselling or rehabilitation.
  • Violating a probation order can result in a further criminal charge.

What is a Fine?

  • A fine is an amount of money that an individual is ordered to pay to the court.
  • If an offender is given a fine at sentencing, they will have a conviction registered against them on their criminal record.
  • A fine can be given place of, or in addition to, imprisonment, a conditional sentence, or an intermittent sentence.
  • A fine cannot be given on top of an absolute discharge, a conditional discharge, or a suspended sentence.
  • Certain criminal offences have minimum fines.

What is a Custodial Sentence?

  • A custodial sentence is a length of time a person will spend incarcerated.
  • Following sentencing the individual  is taken to jail and a conviction is registered against them.
  • They will have a criminal record unless they receive a pardon for their offence.
  • If sentenced to less than two-year sentence the person will serve their sentence at a provincial institution.
  • If they are sentenced to two years or more the individual will serve their sentence at a federal penitentiary.

What is an Intermittent Sentence?

  • An intermittent sentence is a custodial sentence that someone serves in smaller segments of time rather than serving it all at once.
  • It is common that someone will serve an intermittent sentence on the weekends, allowing him or her to maintain their employment and other responsibilities.
  • When someone who is serving an intermittent sentence is not in jail, they are bond by a probation order.
  • A person can only be allowed to serve their sentence intermittently if they receive a sentence of 90 days or less.

What is a Conditional Sentence?

  • A conditional sentence is an imprisonment sentence that the person serves outside of a correctional facility, usually in their home, bond by strict conditions similar to in-custody conditions.
  • The individual is usually required to stay in their home at all times, with few exceptions
  • A probation officer monitors them as the are required to check in with their probation officer at least once.
  • A person will have a conviction registered on their record, unless they receive a pardon.

A judge can only impose a conditional sentence if:

  • The sentence of imprisonment is less than two years;
  • The individual  has not been convicted of a criminal offence that requires a mandatory minimum custodial sentence;
  • They has not been convicted of a serious personal injury offence, a terrorism offence, or a criminal organization offence prosecuted by way of indictment for which the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years or more;
  • The judge is satisfied that they would not threaten the safety of the community.

Your Toronto Criminal  Defence Lawyers, Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers can defend your criminal charges and  negotiate a better sentence for you.  

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