Apr 9, 2019 in Law

Criminal Justice System in Canada

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Sentencing refers to one of the most difficult aspects of the judicial system. The process represents a tricky matter both for a board of judges to direct as well as for society in relation to the complications of punishing (Department of Justice, n.d.). A criminal sentence adverts to official lawful penalties connected with a verdict. There are several types of sentences: temporary imprisonment, penalties, probation, and conditional sentences. A suspended sentence may be given, if a criminal neglects certain circumstances, compensation to the sufferer, public service, or alcohol and drug treatment due to misdemeanors. In case the criminal has committed a more serious crime, a kind of punishment will be durable imprisonment, life sentence, or execution in assassination cases. Criminologists say that all sentences have two main purposes.

First, they prevent the possibility of committing potential crimes by both criminals and other persons considering a similar crime. Second, a sentence serves the goal of retribution, which posits that the criminal deserves penalty for unlawful actions. The adjudicator has to inflict the least strict punishment that serves all purposes and takes into consideration the need for public safety. The sentencing process in Canada is a phenomenon related to the Criminal Code of Canada. It will be analyzed through sentencing principles and procedures, sentencing options, sentencing for particular offences and for specific offenders.


A brief historical review of past sentencing principles in Canada will allow a better perspective on how sentencing procedures and principles have changed and how it has affected the Canadian Justice System. Canada’s current legal system developed based on a variety of European legislatures brought to the country in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by researchers and settlers. At first, the law system of aboriginal people prevailed on the continent. However, after the European intervention, the aboriginal system of laws and social control was changed, and colonist cultures started to overcome local ones. After the English conquest of the French people in Quebec in 1759, the state was under the English ruling. Apart from that region, where the general law is founded on the French Code of Napoleon, Canada's criminal and civil law system is based on the English public and constitutional law (Information Exchange Network for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, n.d.).

The common law was founded on the verdicts of the board of adjudicators in royal magistrates. The law of a “precedent” was developed into a system. When the judge made a decision that something was officially forced, this verdict turned into a pattern or precedent. This rule leads adjudicators in making succeeding choices in analogous situations. The common law of Canada is exclusive and flexible to various conditions. The origin of the civil law is rather unusual. It is derived from the Roman law depicted in a lot of places by means of manuscripts, sculptures, or declarations. Emperor Justinian prepared his lawful specialists to collect all sentences in one book to keep away from disorder.

Moreover, native people also made a contribution to the Canadian legal system. Their civil rights are documented and protected under the Canadian Constitution due to the conscientiousness of the national government. Aboriginal traditions and customs also contributed to innovative means of dealing with citizens, for example, in medicinal and sentencing spheres, as well as district and restorative justice (Information Exchange Network for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition, n.d.).

According to the Criminal Code, a sentence must correspond to the primary law of sentencing under Section 718.1. It is said that penalties cannot match everyone. Sentencing is an essential personal procedure. A lot of sentencing principles are set out in Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code. Each sentence has to be enlarged or reduced to give a reason for any appropriate conditions concerning a crime or a criminal. There can be different evidences: a crime motivated by unfairness, abhorrence based on race, national or cultural origin, color, language, religious conviction, gender, age, sexual orientation, and further related aspects.

A sentence ought to be the same as the ones imposed for analogous crimes or related misdeeds committed in similar conditions. A lawbreaker must not be dispossessed of freedom, if it is suitable in these conditions. The parity principle means that all sentences have to be similar to the ones imposed previously under the same circumstances. Before rendering a verdict, the judge has to reflect on all aspects of a particular crime. This principle guarantees equality among similar positioned circumstances. In the case of a co-accused of a crime, the role of parties is measured in the same way as their individual acts. The principle of parity does not necessitate identical punishment for offenders.

Bringing in an indictment, charges are announced to the defendant, who appeals to the court previously. In case the offender is guilty, the judge will give a sentence according to the rules explicated before, or put off sentencing consecutively to look for other evidences. The sentencing process includes release hearing, preliminary inquiry and trial, sentencing, probation order, fine, imprisonment, and appeal.

Understanding the sentencing options and punishments for certain offenders is crucial in developing the relation between the victim and the so-called accused. Sentences vary from the softest with no certainty to the cruelest with spending the whole life in jail. Canadian courts contain the following sentencing options: imprisonment, suspended sentence, discharge, fine, and probation. A discharge sentence does not give the lawbreaker a criminal record. A dangerous criminal cannot be sentenced to a discharge. There are two types of the latter: absolute and conditional. The first means that the criminal has never been noticed of committing a crime.

The second type means that the lawbreaker will be given a probation period because of committing a crime before this time. He or she can be sentenced in case the offence is not subject to the lowest punishment. Restitution may be given by the court for a goods damage and theft, or several physical or mental harms caused to the victim. A suspended sentence includes the official conviction of an offence, but does not necessitate the criminal to serve the punishment. A fine is the most often used punishment in Canada. For unserious crimes, the highest amount of it is $2000. For the most serious misdemeanours, the sum is not limited. Probation is circumstances that are thought to limit criminals’ actions or support their treatment. These can be sentenced for the lowest crimes. Imprisonment requires the criminal to spend the set time in prison.

It can be sentenced for killing, drug selling, and other similar offences. Imprisonment depends on a crime and circumstances. If it is a first-degree murderer, the offender will be sentenced to 20-25 years in jail. The imprisonment process depends on whether the criminal is dangerous. According to Roberts & Cole (1999), the victim of a crime is usually a person the most affected by the offence, which has important implications (p. 217). Victims do not have the right to make independent representations to the court; their active participation in the sentencing process is encouraged. The recent legislation has enhanced victims’ rights in three areas: the right to information, the right to participation, and the right to restitution. They have benefits in the sentencing process. The Criminal Code addresses the admissibility of victims’ statements in sentencing hearings.


The sentencing process in Canada is enormously important for Canadian society. It was analyzed through sentencing principles and procedures, sentencing options, sentencing for particular offences and for specific offenders. Based on this information, the reader can understand the process and its peculiarities.

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