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FAQs about Sentencing

Is it possible to get a pardon(now called a “record suspension”)?

The chance of getting a record suspension after getting convicted due to a criminal offense depends on the type of the offence, whether it was summary or indictable and how severe the sentence given to you was. The organization that grants pardons is the National Parole Board of Canada A person can apply for a record suspension of a summary conviction matter 5 years after their sentence is completed. For an indictable matter, the waiting time to apply is 10 years after their sentence is completed. It may take about 18 months or up to 36 months to receive a record suspension after you apply, because of the backlog of applications being reviewed. As soon as a person could be eligible to get a record suspension, it is best to apply for it immediately.

What is an Indictable Offence and what is a Summary Conviction Offence?

Indictable Offences are very serious offences according to the Criminal Code of Canada. These offenses have a greater penalty. Most offences that require prosecution by indictment also means you have to undergo trial by jury and, more often than not, a preliminary hearing is needed.

Summary Conviction Offences have lighter penalties, such as fines or a maximum imprisonment of six months.

Sometimes, depending on the crime, there can be hybrid offenses where the sentence combines both indictable offenses and summary conviction offenses.

How do I get into a Diversion Program?

Sometimes an accused may enter a diversion program as a condition to get out of a sentence. These diversion programs are available to assist criminal offenders in getting back on track with their lives. Such programs include Drug Treatment Court, Extrajudicial Sanctions for Young Persons,

Restorative Justice or even a Mental Health Court.

What are the sentences that may result in a criminal record?

A fine may also be combined with other sentences. It requires the accused to pay a fine for his actions.

The court could suspend a sentence if there is no minimum punishment prescribed and the circumstances of the accused calls for a lighter or even suspended sentence.

A conditional sentence is usually made when the sentence of imprisonment is less than two years and there is no actual minimum term of imprisonment. Under certain conditions that will be agreed upon, the accused may serve his sentence in the community under, for example, “house arrest” with the ability to continue to work.

There are only certain limited offences in the Criminal Code which qualify for conditional sentences.

An intermittent sentence is chosen usually when the accused person has special needs or requirements such as taking care of a child, where a person cannot finish the sentence on consecutive days. Instead, days of imprisonment are followed with periods in the community.

A custodial sentence has the accused imprisoned either in a provincial institution or a federal institution, depending on the length of the sentence.

What are the sentences that don’t necessarily result in a criminal record?

An accused person may be acquitted after the trial if there is not enough evidence proving the person’s guilt.

A Stay of Proceedings happens when the parties cannot determine the merits of the case, usually because of an unfair procedure such as a violation of Charter rights.

Even before the trial, if the defense counsel notices very little evidence supporting the Crown, then the sentence can be withdrawn. It can also be withdrawn in exchange for the accused person committing to a Peace Bond, which requires the accused to keep away from the complainant for a given period of time. Lastly, the sentence can also be withdrawn if the accused becomes eligible for a Diversion of the Charges.

While a discharge means that the court has found the accused person guilty, a sentence of discharge means the person is free without being convicted. A conditional discharge means that the person has to satisfy certain conditions to be free.

A probationary sentence is usually combined with other sentences. In it the accused must fulfill a term of probation and is required to report regularly to a probation officer until all conditions have been met.

The court may order restitution, which means that the damage the accused may have done to another person or that other person’s property has to be paid back.

What are the different sentences that can be served after a trial?

Sentences don’t necessarily mean that you will get imprisoned in jail. Depending on the findings of the court and the decision of the judge, an accused person can receive a variety of sentences, not all necessarily resulting in a criminal record.

The different sentences that can be served, depending on the type of offense and its gravity, are as follows: Discharge (Absolute or Conditional), Suspended Sentence, Probation, Restitution, Fine, Conditional Sentence, Intermittent Sentence and Custodial Sentence.

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