What You Need to Know about Sentencing

Criminal Defence » Articles » What You Need to Know about Sentencing
By Published On: June 8, 2023

Sentencing in a Canadian criminal case is a human process and can be one of the most difficult procedures to conduct.  It is very difficult to predict the outcome of a sentencing hearing.

The Basic Purpose of the Criminal Law

The basic purpose of the criminal law is to protect society and individuals from personal injury and property damage.  The main goal in sentencing a person convicted of a criminal offence is to promote just sanctions which will promote the protection of society and its individual members.  More specifically, the Criminal Code prescribes the goals of sentence to be denunciation, deterrence, separate offenders from society where necessary, rehabilitation, reparation to victims, and to promote offender responsibility.

If you are facing an upcoming sentencing hearing, it is important that you understand and discuss with your criminal defence lawyer how each of these goals will be met.  This is critical because the judge will want to be persuaded that the sentence proposed meets these goals.  You should discuss with your criminal defence lawyer what documents, witnesses or other evidence will be presented in order to satisfy the court that these goals of sentencing will be met.

Understanding About Your Background

Ensure that your Ottawa criminal defence lawyer has a full understanding about your background including your education, community involvement, medical history, family support and personal circumstances in your life that may have been present leading up to the commission of the offence.  The sentencing judge will be trying to get a clear picture of you as a person and you will want to assist your criminal defence lawyer in conveying that picture in the best possible light.  You can assist your lawyer by gathering information and reliable evidence about the positive aspects about you and your character.

Understand All of the Terms

During the sentencing hearing, the judge can ask the convicted person if they wish to say anything to the court.  You should discuss this aspect of the process with your criminal defence lawyer.

You should also ask your criminal defence lawyer and make sure you understand all of the terms of the sentence your lawyer will ask for and all of the terms of sentence the crown attorney will ask for.  The law states that the sentencing judge does not have to accept the sentence proposed by either the defence lawyer or the crown attorney.  The sentencing judge can impose a sentence more harsh or more lenient that the sentence proposed by either party.

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