Once an accused person has been convicted of an offence, the courts must decide what sentence to impose. In selecting an appropriate sentence, courts aim to denounce the unlawful behaviour, deter the offender and others from committing the same offence, rehabilitate the offender, and separate them from society if needed. The sentence must also be similar to sentences given to others for the same offence (in the interest of fairness), while giving weight to the specific circumstances of each offender and addressing the seriousness of the crime.
The following options may be considered:
Absolute Discharge: A finding of guilt is made, but no conviction is entered, and no conditions are imposed. This is the lowest-level sentence available.
Conditional Discharge: As with an absolute discharge, a finding of guilt is made, but no conviction is entered. The offender would complete a period of probation and, if they are successful in completing probation and after a set waiting period, it becomes an absolute discharge. If the offender is not successful in completing probation, the discharge could be jeopardized and they could face new criminal charges.
Suspended sentence: This sentence is very similar to a conditional discharge in that the offender will be required to complete a period of probation. The main difference is that a suspended sentence includes a conviction being registered, meaning that the offender will have a criminal record.
Fines: A payment made to the court.
Conditional Sentence: This is a sentence of incarceration served in the community, rather than in a jail. Conditional sentences are sometimes called “house arrest” because they come with strict conditions what resemble those in jail. The most common condition is to remain in the house at all times unless going to school, work, medical appointments, religious worship, or for emergencies. These sentences are only available if the sentence is for a term of less than two years and the offence is not one which carries a minimum sentence.
Intermittent Sentence: An intermittent sentence is a jail sentence that an offender serves in pieces of time, rather than all at once. Most commonly, these sentences are served over weekends so that the offender is able to continue working during the week. An intermittent sentence is only available for a sentence of 90 days or less.
Imprisonment: This is the most serious type of sentence where an offender is kept in a jail or penitentiary under strict conditions and supervision.
If you have been charged with and are at risk of any of the above penalties or would like more information about your options, please contact DeMelo Law.