Sentencing a First-Time Offender in Ontario

Criminal Defence » Legal Process Articles » Sentencing a First-Time Offender in Ontario
By Published On: October 12, 2010

OTTAWA CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER – First-time offenders – that is, individuals who are facing charges but have no previous criminal record – have a unique place within Ontario’s criminal justice system.

That’s because Canadian criminal courts would rather see first-time offenders – especially younger ones – taking part in rehabilitative programs instead of serving lengthy prison sentences.

In the groundbreaking 1996 case of R. v.Priest, an Ontario appeal court judge made some statements regarding first-time offenders which reflect their position within Canada’s correctional and judicial systems.

“A first sentence of imprisonment should be as short as possible,” the judge’s statement read, “And tailored to the individual circumstances of the accused rather than solely for the purpose of general deterrence.”

That particular case involved an alleged offender who was just 19 years old. In the case of “youthful” accused like this one, the goal is to apply alternatives such as longer parole periods instead of incarcerating.

This applies, to a lesser extent, even to Canadian adults who are charged with their first criminal offence. Section 718 of the Criminal Code of Canada has more detailed information on what factors should mitigate a criminal penalty – reduce the seriousness of it – and emphasizes that more serious sentences should be reserved for repeat offenders.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence for the first time, that’s an important piece of information to share with your criminal defence lawyer. Not only can it help your case before the court; it can also make your penalty less severe if you are convicted of the crime.

Have you been charged with a criminal offence in Ontario? You probably have a lot of questions, especially if this is the first set of charges you have ever faced. It’s important to get help and information from an experienced defence lawyer. For more information, contact the Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth by email [email protected] or by phone at (613) 699-8192.

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