Types of Sentence

The Criminal Code allows judges to impose certain types of sentence for specific offences in specific circumstances. The types of sentence are:

Absolute Discharge – You don’t receive any fine or sentence, and there is no criminal record.

Conditional Discharge – You are placed on probation for a certain length of time, during which you have to follow certain conditions (rules). These could include:

• obeying a curfew
• paying restitution
• working community service hours
• not entering a specified area or having contact with certain people
• engaging in counselling or other programs.

After the probation period is over, if you’ve met all the conditions the discharge becomes complete.

Suspended Sentence and Probation – This often includes a condition that you report to a Probation Officer as they direct. Other conditions might include:

• attending alcohol or drug assessment and/or treatment
• taking programs for anger management or domestic violence
• not using alcohol or drugs
• not contacting certain people or being at certain places
• any other conditions that are appropriate to the crime and your situation.

If you don’t follow the conditions the judge ordered, the prosecutor can apply to the Court to revoke the suspended sentence and impose a different sentence.

Fine – If you are given a fine, you will be given time to pay it. If it is not paid within that time, you could end up in custody or be unable to renew your driver’s licence.

Conditional Sentence – Media reports sometimes confuse this sentence with the conditional discharge. But a conditional sentence is a jail sentence served within the community under strict conditions. If you don’t follow the conditions the judge ordered, you may end up serving the rest of the sentence in prison.

Custodial Sentence – This is where you serve a period of time in jail - either a provincial correctional centre or a federal penitentiary. For sentences of 90 days or less, a judge may order an intermittent sentence. This means you do not serve all the days of your sentence at the same time, but rather serve your sentence during, for example, weekends.

Victim Fine Surcharge - When you are sentenced you may be required to pay a surcharge or fee, called the victim surcharge, that goes toward helping victims of crime. The amount of the surcharge is 30% of any fine you are given or, if there is no fine, $100 for each summary offence and $200 for each indictable offence. This surcharge will be added by the court registry unless the judge says you do not have to pay it (“exempts you from paying it”) or reduces the amount. The judge may order that you pay no victim surcharge or that you pay a reduced amount if it would cause you undue hardship because of your financial circumstances. The judge may also decrease, increase or order no payment based on the circumstances of the offence and your responsibility for it.

This website provides general information only and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice.

Updated February 2020