Sentencing Outcomes

If you are found guilty of a criminal offence, there are several sentencing outcomes that you may expect. In each case, the judge has some discretion when imposing a sentence. A judge will consider such factors as the nature of the offence committed, the circumstances of the offence, and your personal circumstances.

Absolute Discharge

If the judge decides to discharge you, you will not be criminally convicted and will not have a criminal record. An absolute discharge means that there is no period of probation. The discharge will be kept on file for 1 year, and will then be removed.

Conditional Discharge

A conditional discharge likewise means that you will not have a criminal record, but you will be placed on probation for a period up to 3 years. Your record will reflect the discharge for 1-3 years, and will then be removed.

Probation / Peace Bond

A peace bond is a promise made to the court by the offender that he or she will keep the peace and be of good behaviour, along with any other discretionary conditions the judge finds to be reasonable and appropriate for a specific period of time. The duration for most peace bonds is for one or two years. A probationary sentence is served in the community and all conditions must be followed for its entire duration. Probation is often included as part of sentencing, and it begins after the custodial sentence has been served.

Suspended Sentence

A suspended sentence requires you to be on probation for 1 to 3 years. However, unlike a conditional discharge, receiving a suspended sentence means that a conviction is registered against you and you will have a criminal record.


Victim Surcharge Fines are often imposed along with a non-custodial or custodial sentence. The fines are generally not overly onerous.

Custodial Sentences

Custodial sentences range from intermittent sentences, which are under 90 days and can be served intermittently (i.e. on weekends), to the maximum, which is life imprisonment with parole eligibility at 25 years. The custodial range depends on the nature and circumstances of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender.