If a plea is entered, or an Accused is found guilty, the process will shift to one of sentencing ...
How The Criminal System Works
If a plea is entered, or an Accused is found guilty, the process will shift to one of sentencing. A number of factors (called aggravating
and mitigating factors) are considered. These include the nature of the offence, any criminal record, likelihood for rehabilitation, any time
served in custody before trial or onerous release conditions, etc. The court may also order a pre-sentence report be prepared by a probation
officer and adjourn sentencing proceedings to allow this to happen. Possible sentencing alternatives for adults include the following (note
that sentencing for youth can be quite different):
- Absolute Discharge. This does not carry a criminal conviction and does not include any further consequences. This record will be
“discharged” one year after sentencing.
- Conditional Discharge. This does not carry a criminal conviction but will involve certain conditions, usually probation. This record
will be “discharged” three years after probation is complete.
- Suspended Sentence. This is a criminal conviction but without further sanctions, besides probation.
- Fine order.
- Conditional Sentence. This is essentially a jail sentence served in the community, usually a portion of this sentence involves house arrest.
It is important to note that while a discharge does not technically give someone a criminal record, it can potentially have employment
implications. A discharge may also affect sentencing upon a subsequent finding of guilt. Additionally, it may affect someone’s immigration
status as well as the ability to cross the American border (American authorities view a discharge as a criminal conviction). It is best to
contact an immigration lawyer if these are relevant concerns.
The National Parole Board allows persons found guilty of criminal offences after a certain amount of time has passed. A pardon has
implications similar to that of a discharge.