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Basic Sentencing Principles

What is it?
From Section 718.1 of the Criminal
The fundamental purpose of

sentencing is to contribute, along with

crime prevention initiatives, to respect
for the law and the maintenance of a
just, peaceful, and safe society by
imposing just sanctions that have one
or more of the following objectives

Why do we sentence?


to promote a sense of responsibility in

offenders, and acknowledgment of the
harm done to victims and to the
to denounce unlawful conduct;

What is the sentencing


An offender is charged with his/her second impaired

driving offence

A first time offender with an alcohol abuse problem is

charged with assault causing bodily harm

An offender is charged with robbery with a weapon

An offender is charged with importing narcotics into

A father ends the suffering of his severely disabled child

and is convicted of second-degree murder

Whats the basic principle?


The sentence has to fit the crime.

The court takes into account:

AGGRAVATING FACTORS factors which should

increase the responsibility of the offender i.e. violence,
viol. of trust, repeat offences/criminal record
MITIGATING FACTORS - factors which should
decrease the responsibility of the offender ie. first
offence, family, employed, remorse, pled guilty

Sentencing an Offender

Concurrent Sentence when time is served for

multiple crimes at the same time
Consecutive Sentence when the offender will
serve their sentences one after the other

Diversion programs sentences that keep offenders

out of jail
Less expensive than prison
Prevent mingling with other offenders
Allow the offender to make amends in a more
meaningful way

Sentencing Options
Absolute granted with no


conditions (i.e. reporting to a
police officer, attending a
program, abstaining from
alcohol etc.)


Allow correctional services to maintain

jurisdiction over offenders within the community

Can also include fines/imprisonment

Goal is to reintegrate and rehabilitate offenders


For the offender

Of the offender


Financial penalties imposed by a judge for

less serious offences

Payment options include

Extended schedules

Garnishment of wages

Fine option programs

Intermittent Sentences

Where 90 days or less

Allows flexibility for judges and


Allows offender to keep their job,

continue with education/training and
support any dependents.

Conditional Sentences

Option of sentences where less than 2 years to

be served in the community

Allows judges to denounce criminal conduct by

imposing a prison sentence while acknowledging
that incarceration may be unnecessary


Canadas rate is quite high

Run at the federal and provincial level

Sentencing Reform
Victim Impact Statements
Details the harm/loss suffered

as a result of the offence

Can read in court or present in
any other manner considered
appropriate by the court
Provides closure for victims
Court can hear firsthand the
impact of the crime

Restorative Justice

Rights-based approach focusing on peaceful

resolution of wrongs
Not so much based on punishing the offender,
but on having the offender set things right by
recognizing, accepting, and taking real
responsibility for their actions
Similar to Aboriginal concept of Healing Justice:
healing the wrong in a cooperative manner

Your Turn

Retributive vs. Restorative

Retributive Justice

Restorative Justice

Crime is an act against the state, a

violation of a law (abstract)

Crime is an act against another person and the


Crime is an individual act with

individual responsibility

Crime has both individual and social

dimensions of responsibility

Punishment is effective (threat of

punishment deters crime; punishment
changes behaviour)

Punishment alone is not effective in changing

behaviour and is disruptive to community
harmony and good relationships

Victims are peripheral to the process

Victims are central to the process of resolving a


Focus on establishing blame or guilt,

on the past (did he/she do it?)

Focus on the problem solving, on

liabilities/obligations, on the future (what
should be done?)

Emphasis on adversarial relationship

Emphasis on dialogue and negotiation