The concept of conditional sentencing in Canada has been around since 1996 in which, the sentenced individual is allowed to serve imprisonment in the community, instead of correctional premises. This type of sentencing requires the person to remain in home arrest for a certain period, which, sometimes, also includes graduated restrictions like residence requirements and curfew. The purpose of this course of action is to allow let those, bound by conditional sentences, to attend or work in the school, whichever possible.
One of the major purposes of conditional sentencing is to control reliance on incarceration with the help of alternative sentencing from the courts. Drinking and driving Toronto is one of those offences that lead to conditional sentencing. The provisions are made under a range of sections from 742 to 742.7 of Canada’s criminal code. According to these sections, every individual is liable to meet a set of five criteria before getting a conditional sentence:
- The offence shouldn’t be a serious injury offence (as described by section 752), a criminal organization offence or a terrorism offence.
- The offence convicted by the person must not lead to punishment, based on minimum terms of imprisonment.
- The judge must understand that the criminal offence is subject to imprisonment of 2 years or less.
- The judge must be satisfied of the decision to allow the person to serve sentence in the community. There must be surety of not bringing harm to anyone around.
- The judge must ascertain that the condition sentence is meets all requirements of the fundamental purpose as well as principles of sentencing under sections 718 to 718.2 of the Code.
Considering the fifth criterion, following aspects are involved in sentencing:
- The accusation of unlawful act
- Limitations imposed on the offender and others to avoid committing offences in the future
- To keep the offender separate from the community whenever needed
- Rehabilitation of the offender
- Acts to compensation the victim or the community
- Building sense of responsibility in the offender
The Safe Streets and Communities Act has been an active contributor to restrict the implementation of conditional sentencing for certain crimes. There is a huge list of crimes for which, conditional sentences no longer exist. Some of them are:
- All offences leading to 14 years of sentencing, at max, or life imprisonment- arson, fraud over $5,000, manslaughter and aggravated assault.
- Offences explained by indictment or lead to 10 years of imprisonment, including:
- Import/export, production and trafficking of drugs
- Bodily harm
- Use of weapons
- Offences prosecuted by indictment:
- Theft over $5,000
- Trafficking in people
- Prison breach
- Sexual assault
- Criminal harassment
- Drinking and driving Toronto
- Arson for fraud
- Abduction of people under 14 by strangers
- Unlawful presence in a dwelling-house
However, there are some people who still doubt the elimination of conditional sentencing. They think that this action may increase plea bargaining because accused people can attempt to find a way to keep themselves safe from conditional sentences. Others are concerned about racial disparities in inmates, increase of judicial expenses as incentives for plead guilty would no longer exist and more and more changes waiting for trial, thereby leading to serious consequences in case of delay.