Conditional Sentence is a sentencing option outlined in section 742.1 of the Criminal Code. The Code states that if an individual is convicted of an offence and sentenced to less than two years custody, the court may order that the offender serve his sentence in the community if certain conditions are met. This means that instead of going to jail to serve the period of incarceration, the offender will serve their sentence at home, on house arrest. While on house arrest, the offender will be required to abide by strict, jail like conditions.
What is a Conditional Sentence?
A conditional sentence is essentially house arrest. When an eligible individual is sentenced to less than two years is custody, the court may order that the offender serve the sentence at home in the community. This means that an individual may be placed on house arrest for a maximum of two years. While on house arrest, the offender will be required to abide by strict conditions imposed by the court. The purpose of a conditional sentence is to restrict the offender’s liberty while promoting rehabilitation and limiting the number of individuals sent to prison in Canada.
The conditions associated with a conditional sentence are similar to probation conditions. If the accused breaches the conditions, they may be sent to jail and be charged with additional Criminal Code offences. Like probation, an individual serving a conditional sentence will have a conditional sentence supervisor to whom they must report regularly.
Who is Eligible for a Conditional Sentence
To be eligible for a conditional sentence, the offender must be sentenced to a period of incarceration for less than two years. The Criminal Code outlines several other conditions that must be met before the court can order a conditional sentence.
These conditions include:
- The court must be satisfied that the conditional sentence would be consistent with sentencing principles and that the offender will not pose a danger to the community.
- There must be no mandatory minimum sentence associated with the offence.
- The offence is not an indictable offence for which the maximum penalty is 14 years or life imprisonment.
- The offence cannot be an indictable terrorism or criminal organization offence for which the maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.
- The offence cannot be an indictable offence for which the maximum penalty is 10 years in prison, and that caused bodily harm to the complainant, involved the use of a weapon, or involved importing, exporting, trafficking or the production of drugs.
To be eligible for a conditional sentence, the offender cannot have committed any of the following offences:
What Conditions are Associated with a Conditional Sentence?
When the court orders that an offender serve their custodial sentence in the community at home, the court will also order that the offender abide by a number of strict conditions. Since house arrest is still a custodial sentence there are several mandatory conditions that must be imposed, as well as several additional optional conditions that the court may order if they deem it necessary to do so. These conditions will remain in place for the duration of the offender’s sentence, up to two years less a day. These conditions are outlined in section 742.3 of the Criminal Code.
When imposing a conditional sentence on an individual convicted of an offence, the court is required to impose all the following compulsory conditions. The offender must do the following for the duration of their conditional sentence:
- Keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
- Appear before the court when ordered to do so.
- Report to a supervisor within two business days, or longer if the court directs, after the conditional sentence is imposed and thereafter as ordered to do so by the supervisor.
- Remain in the jurisdiction of the court unless given written permission to leave by the court or the supervisor.
- Notify the court or the supervisor in advance of any changes in address or name and promptly notify the court or supervisor of any changes in occupation or employment.
In addition to these conditions, the court may also impose other optional conditions if the deem it desirable to do so. The court may also required the offender to do the following:
- Refrain from consuming any drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances. Prescription medication is permissible with a proper prescription.
- Submit to drug and/or alcohol testing if there is reason to believe the offender has breached the condition to refrain from consuming drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances.
- Submit to drug and/or alcohol testing at regular intervals as ordered by the supervisor, if the offender has been ordered to refrain from consuming drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances.
- Refrain from communicating, directly or indirectly, with the victim, witnesses from the case or any other person named in the order and from attending any place these individuals are known to be or any geographic area specified in the order.
- Refrain from possessing, owning, or carrying any weapons.
- Support and/or care for dependants.
- Complete up to 240 hours of community service in no more than 18 months.
- Attend a treatment program approved by the province.
- Comply with any other reasonable conditions the court deems desirable to ensure the good conduct of the offender and to prevent reoffending.
If imposed, these conditions will remain in place for the duration of the conditional sentence or until the court orders otherwise.
What happens if I Breach a Condition of my Conditional Sentence?
If an offender breaches a condition of their conditional sentence, they may be taken to jail to serve their sentence in custody. The offender may also be charged with an additional criminal offence for failing to abide by the conditions of the court’s order.
Will a Conditional Sentence Appear on my Criminal Record?
Yes. If you have been sentenced to a conditional sentence after being convicted of a criminal offence, you have a criminal record. Your criminal record will show the offence for which you were convicted and will indicate that you were sentenced to a period of custody as a result.
A conditional sentence is a finding of guilt that results in a permanent criminal record for the accused. A conditional sentence will appear on all background checks including those for employment and immigration purposes.
Can I get my Conviction Pardoned?
In some cases, yes. Since a conditional sentence is a criminal conviction that results in a permanent criminal record, the only way to have it removed is by applying for a pardon or record suspension. Whether or not the pardon or record suspension will be granted will depend in the charges. In many cases, an appeal is needed.