Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Conditional Sentence Definition:

A sentence of a person convicted of a crime which allow that person to serve his sentence whilst continuing to reside within his/her community, subject to supervision and reporting, and fully recoverable in the event of breach of those conditions.

Related Terms: Conditional Discharge, Suspended Sentence

The statutory authority for a conditional sentence can be found in the 2008 edition of Canada's Criminal Code, section 742.1 (extract only):

"If a person is convicted of an offence, other than a serious personal injury offence ..., a terrorism offence or a criminal organization offence prosecuted by way of indictment for which the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years or more or an offence punishable by a minimum term of imprisonment, and the court imposes a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years and is satisfied that the service of the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community and would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing ..., the court may, for the purpose of supervising the offender’s behaviour in the community, order that the offender serve the sentence in the community, subject to the offender’s compliance with ... conditions...."

Canada's Supreme Court wrote in R v Proulx:

"(S)entencing is an individualized process, in which the trial judge has considerable discretion in fashioning a fit sentence.

"As a prerequisite to any conditional sentence, the sentencing judge must be satisfied that having the offender serve the sentence in the community would not endanger its safety.

"If the sentencing judge is not satisfied that the safety of the community can be preserved, a conditional sentence must never be imposed.

"To assess the danger to the community posed by the offender while serving his or her sentence in the community, two factors must be taken into account: the risk of the offender re-offending and the gravity of the damage that could ensue in the event of re-offence.

"'Would not endanger the safety of the community' should be construed broadly, and include the risk of any criminal activity. Such a broad interpretation encompasses the risk of economic harm."

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