Navigating and understanding the criminal justice system can be a challenging task. It is important for an accused to understand the criminal sentencing options so they can make well-informed decisions with respect to their criminal charges.
The Criminal Code governs criminal law in Canada. It includes the powers and principles in relation to criminal sentences. When a person is found guilty of a crime, a judge sentences them after hearing from both the defence and the Crown. The judge considers several factors before picking from a number of different sentencing options mentioned in the law. There are offences that have a maximum and a minimum sentence which is imposed depending on the nature of the offence.
How a judge determines a sentence
Sentencing is not a mathematical process, a judge has to consider a number of different factors when they pass sentence. Here are some of the factors that help a judge during the sentencing process:
- Whether or not the offender requires rehabilitation
- The seriousness of the offence
- Whether or not the offender should be separated from society
- What sentence might be suitable for the harm caused to the community or victim
- What sentence would make the offender realize the responsibility or acknowledge the harm the offence caused
- Offender’s intentions or motives for committing the offence
- Offender’s previous criminal record
Judges also consider the sentences other judges had given for similar kinds of offences or circumstances in the past. It’s important for judges to study cases with similar facts and issues. Different principles of sentencing play a key role when a sentence is imposed. For instance, the starting point for a major sexual assault is three years in jail. A judge can increase or decrease the sentence based on the circumstances. While general guidance plays a crucial part in the sentencing process, judges still have a degree of power in deciding the sentence in accordance with the circumstances.
Types of sentences
A period in jail, a fine, a period of probation, a conditional or absolute discharge are some of the common sentences judges can impose. A period in jail is probably the most known type of sentence which is an option for almost every criminal offence in Canada. There is a maximum jail sentence for most offences. Also, there is minimum jail time for some offences and the judge must impose that.
If an offender is given jail time of less than two years, they will serve the sentence in a provincial jail. If an offender is sentenced to 2 years or longer in jail, they will serve their sentence in a federal penitentiary. In cases where an intermittent sentence is given, a judge can allow the offender to serve the sentence intermittently which means the offender may serve the jail time on weekends. This can help offenders stay employed.
If you have been charged with a crime in Canada, hiring an experienced and dedicated criminal lawyer can help you avoid a criminal record. Slaferek Law is a team of highly competent criminal defence lawyers in Edmonton who provide dependable legal assistance with a myriad of criminal charges. Contact us or visit our website to book a free consultation!