Justice Process Sentencing
If the accused is found "guilty" the judge must choose from a range of sentences set by law and decide on the appropriate sentence.
The judge will consider:
- the circumstances about the crime
- the offender’s criminal record
- the offender’s personal history
- the impact of the crime on the victim
- the amount of responsibility that is taken by the offender
Does someone help the judge decide what the punishment should be?
- The Crown prosecutor and the defence counsel have the chance to tell the judge about the offender. They will make suggestions to the judge about the appropriate punishment.
- The judge may ask a probation officer to prepare a pre-sentence report to help make a decision.
- The victim may tell the judge how the crime has affected her or him by preparing a Victim Impact Statement. The judge must consider the Victim Impact Statement before deciding on a sentence. Learn more about the Victim Impact Statement.
- In some communities the judge conducts a sentencing circle. Community members come together to discuss the possible sentence that may help to make the offender accountable to the community.
- The Criminal Code directs the judge what to consider in deciding on a sentence.
- The Criminal Code directs the judge what the maximum sentence could be for a specific crime and in some cases what the minimum sentence should be.
What Types of Sentences are there?
There are many sentences and combinations of sentences the judge can choose from such as:
- An absolute discharge. This means he or she will not be punished.
- A conditional discharge, which means he or she will have to fulfil certain conditions for a period of time. This is instead of a prison term or other punishment.
- To pay a fine up to many thousand dollars. The government will collect and keep this money, not the victim.
- Pay money or restitution to a victim for any injuries or to replace any property that was taken or damaged.
- A release on probation for a period of time. The offender is to be of good behaviour and tell the probation officer or youth worker of any changes of address, school or work. There may be special conditions that he/she needs to follow.
- A conditional sentence where the accused serves time (less than two years) under supervision in the community along with certain conditions instead of jail.
- Imprisonment or jail. This is the most serious sentence because it takes away a person's freedom. An offender who is sentenced to jail for less than two years will stay in a provincial correctional institution and may be on probation after that time. The offender will have to follow certain rules and report to a probation officer regularly.
- An offender sentenced to two years or more serves the time in a federal penitentiary. After serving at least one third of the sentence, an offender can ask for parole. Parole allows the offender out of jail, with strict rules and supervision before the sentence is completed. An offender on parole who does not follow the rules may be returned to jail.
- An intermittent sentence where the offender will go to jail for blocks of time such as every weekend.
- A person who commits a very violent crime against another person may be declared a dangerous offender and sentenced to stay in a federal prison for as long as he or she is considered dangerous. In some cases, this will be indefinitely. A special request and hearing must be held to declare an offender a dangerous offender.