The sentencing process takes place after a defendant has been found guilty or has pleaded guilty to a criminal offence.

This process consists of a hearing where the judge will consider:

  • Evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defence,
  • The facts of the case,
  • The offender's criminal history,
  • Any mitigating or aggravating factors that may be present.

Categories of Offences and Sentencing

Criminal offences are classified as either summary offences, indictable offences, or hybrid offences.

  • Summary offences: Less severe offences typically punishable by a fine, community service, or a short-term prison sentence. 
  • Indictable offences: More severe offences generally punishable by a longer prison sentence.
  • Hybrid offences: Offences that can be classified as either summary or indictable offences, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Available Sentencing Options

The severity of the offence, the offender’s criminal history, and any mitigating or aggravating factors determine the available sentencing options. Sentencing alternatives in Canada include fines, probation, community service, conditional sentences, and custodial sentences.

The Appeal Procedure

If dissatisfied with the imposed sentence, the offender has the option to appeal the decision. An appeal is a request made to a higher court to review the decision of a lower court. Grounds for appealing a sentence include errors in law or fact, or an excessive sentence length.

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