5 Things to Know About Sentencing

The judge has the final say

Even if your lawyer and the crown agree on what an appropriate sentence is, the judge has the discretion to reject this "joint submission" if it is outside the appropriate range of sentence.  While judges do not do this lightly, it is within their power.  Judges are bound by minimum and maximum sentences set by parliament in the law but even these can be moved if they violate your rights.

There are set goals in sentencing

The Criminal Code sets out a number of principles of sentencing but the main goals enunciated are to rehabilitate the offender, deter that offender from future criminal conduct, deter others from considering similar conduct and denouncing such action to the community.  Which principle of sentence will be at the forefront in your case depends on what you were charged with, how that is viewed in the community and what you have done to better yourself.

Personal information matters

While lawyers may limit the number of documents they submit to a judge on sentencing to keep focus on key points, it is better to provide your lawyer with as much information about yourself as possible.  A resume or curriculum vitae along with letters indicating any steps toward rehabilitation, better health goals or employment can all help in your sentence.  I prefer clients who bring me lots of information and then I can determine what best works in the circumstances.  In other words, I'd rather have the tools and not need them than vice versa.

Possible sentences

Judges have a broad toolkit in sentencing.  It ranges from jail, house arrest, probation and fines to less known things like driving prohibitions, drivers' license suspensions, restitution, DNA orders, weapons prohibitions and more.  What is important to you and what sentence options are ones you can live with is something to talk to your lawyer about.

Your sentence may not be over with the judge

Other sentencing issues that you need to keep in mind include reciprocal punishments.  This includes loss of license from a provincial or state authority, immigration issues, increased insurance cost and travel options.  You also need to understand how each of these can lengthen the time until you can get a pardon or record suspension as not all of them do affect this in the same way.

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