Sentencing 26/04/2013 7:44:00 AM
Section 718 of the Criminal Code sets out the purpose and principles of sentencing:
The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to a
respect for the law and maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that
have one or more of the following objectives:
To denounce unlawful conduct
To deter the offenders and other persons from committing offences;
To separate offenders from society, where necessary
To assist in rehabilitating offenders
To provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community
To promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to
victims and to the community
Section 718.1 states that a sentence has to be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and to the
degree of responsibility of the offender. Section 718.2 states that it has follow under certain principles
pertaining to evidence.
Three main groups of sentencing goals:
Utilitarian Goal: the sentence is designed to protect the public from future crimes in the following ways:
By discouraging potential predators from crime, general deterrence.
By discouraging the predators from doing it again, specific deterrence.
By curing the predators of what made them do it, rehabilitation.
By keeping the predators in jail to protect society, incapacitation.
Retributive Goals: the past rather than the future is the focus of retributive sentencing goals, which
Denunciation: that is, expressing society’s disapproval of the behaviour of predators. Retribution: that is, making the two men “pay” for their offences, based on the philosophy “an
eye for an eye”
A key concept in retributive sentencing is proportionality- that is, the sentence handed down
should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and to the convicted person’s degree of
The most widely restorative approaches are victim- offender reconciliation, circle sentencing and
family group conferencing.
o Is based on the principle that criminal behaviour injures not only the victim, but
communities and offenders as well.
Absolute discharge: a sentence wherein the accused is found guilty but does not gain a
criminal record and is given no sentence.
Conditional discharge: is similar to an absolute discharge except that the offender is placed on
probation, with various conditions, one of which is “to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.”
The fine option program: a program that provides offenders who cannot pay a fine with the
opportunity to discharge, through community service work, all or part of the fine.
Suspended sentence: a sentencing option whereby the judge convicts the accused but
technically gives no sentence and instead places the offender on probation, which, if successfully
completed, results in no sentence being given, usually given probation.
Probation: no minimum penalty prescribed, the sentencing judge may place the offender on
Restitution: compensation to victims. Often involves mischief, fraud, and theft. Helps restore
victims to their pre-offence financial condition and because it holds the offender accountable to
the parties he or she has