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Being accused of a crime is a frightening prospect. When you imagine a “criminal sentence” the first thing to come to mind is probable a prison sentence. The best option if you are charged with a crime is an acquittal or to have the charges withdrawn. However, even if you are found guilty, there are many penalties that are less severe than a prison term that can be imposed, some of which won’t result in a permanent criminal record.

1. Diversion

Diversion is not a finding of guilt, so it is not exactly a “sentence” per se. Diversion is an alternative measure offered to divert a charge out of the criminal courts in appropriate cases wherein an accused “takes responsibility” without admitting guilt. If all of the conditions of the diversion program are completed the crown will withdraw the charges. There are usually various requirements imposed upon entering a diversion program, some common terms may be community service, a letter of apology, attendance in therapy, etc. Diversion will not result in a criminal record.

2. Absolute Discharge

An absolute discharge is not a conviction. If the court imposes an absolute discharge the charge should be removed automatically from your criminal record after 1 year. The accused does not have to ask for pardon for the charge to be removed from the record. This is typically reserved for the most minor of crimes and/or most sympathetic accused.

3. Conditional Discharge

A conditional discharge is also not a conviction. This requires an offender to subject to a probation order with some conditions for a period of up to three years. After 3 years the charge should be removed from your criminal record. There are conditions attached to this type of ruling, often an accused will need to complete a probation program. You must complete the conditions in order to have the charge removed from your record.

4. Fine

When you are charged with a crime and the judge orders a fine as a stand-alone sentence, there will be no prison sentence. There will however be a criminal record. The judge may allow for the fine to be paid in installments or provide time for the offender to pay the fine. Failure to pay a fine, or not making regular payments could result in additional charges.

5. Suspended Sentence

A suspended sentence is similar to a conditional discharge in that probation is typically imposed wherein the passing of sentence gets suspended, however unlike a conditional discharge there will be a criminal conviction on your record.  If the probation order is breached, the suspended sentence may be revoked and an alternate sentence may be substituted.

6. Conditional Sentence

A conditional sentence is more commonly called “house arrest”. You will get a criminal record, but you will serve time in the community rather than in prison, usually with time away from home severely restricted. Occasionally the sentence may allow time away from the home to attend work or medical appointments, but this should be canvassed with the sentencing judge in court as it is not automatically attached to the sentence. The statutory preconditions to the impositions of the conditional sentence include considering that such conditional sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the public.

7. Intermittent Sentence

An intermittent sentence is a jail term served intermittently such as on the weekends. This is only available if the sentence is 90 days or less. A permanent criminal record will be imposed. This program is not available at all prison facilities.

8. Custodial Sentence

A custodial sentence is a prison term. If the sentence is less than two years you will be sent to a provincial facility and if it is two or more than two years you will go to a federal facility. There are often options available for early release, but it will depend on the individual circumstances of the offender.

The prospect of a criminal record and a prison term may be very frightening. Your best option for understanding the possibility of an acquittal or withdrawal of charges is to hire a criminal defence lawyer. “Ayaz Mehdi Professional Corporation” is a full-service firm that can assist you with your Criminal matter.

Disclaimer: Use of this site and sending or receiving information through it does not establish a solicitor – client (Attorney-Client) relationship. The views expressed and the content provided on this blog is for non-profit educational purposes. It is not, and is not intended to be, legal advice on any specific set of facts. The use of this website does not create a solicitor-client (attorney-client) relationship. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer directly.

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