Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Sentence Definition:

The judgment given to a person who has been convicted (i.e. found to be guilty) of a crime.

Related Terms: Alternative Measures, Restorative Justice, Sentencing Circle, Pre-Sentence Report, General Deterrence, Specific Deterrence, Judgment, Condign

In a civil case, a judge's decision is called a judgment but in a criminal case, the term sentence is used.

In R v McCaud, Justice Porter these words were used to judicially define sentence:

"The judicial determination of the punishment to be inflicted on a convicted criminal."

In Morris v R, Justice Pratte adopted the following words to define sentence:

"... the determination and pronouncement of punishment or like action following a finding of guilt....

"... the fate or punishment of a person who has been adjuged guilty.

"The judgment formally pronounced by the court or judge upon the defendant after the conviction in a criminal prosecution, awarding the punishment to be inflicted. Judgments formally declaring to accused legal consequences of guilt which he has confessed or of which he has been convicted."

It may be time in jail, community service or a period of probation. In extreme cases, and only in some jurisdictions, the ultimate sentence is the death penalty.

French: sentence.


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