Sentencing

Purpose and Principles of Sentencing
Purpose 718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

a) to denounce unlawful conduct.
b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences.
c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary.
d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders.
e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community.
f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims and to the community.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 718; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 155; 1995, c. 22, s. 6.

Objectives — offences against children 718.01. When a court imposes a sentence for an offence that involved the abuse of a person under the age of eighteen years, it shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of such conduct.

2005, c. 32, s. 24.

Objectives — offence against peace officer or other justice system participant
718.02. When a court imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection 270(1), section 270.01 or 270.02 or paragraph 423.1(1)(b), the court shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of the conduct that forms the basis of the offence.

2009, c. 22, s. 18.

Organizations
Additional factors
718.21. A court that imposes a sentence on an organization shall also take into consideration the following factors:

(a) any advantage realized by the organization as a result of the offence
(b) the degree of planning involved in carrying out the offence and the duration and complexity of the offence.
(c) whether the organization has attempted to conceal its assets, or convert them, in order to show that it is not able to pay a fine or make restitution.
(d) the impact that the sentence would have on the economic viability of the organization and the continued employment of its employees.
(e) the cost to public authorities of the investigation and prosecution of the offence.
(f) any regulatory penalty imposed on the organization or one of its representatives in respect of the conduct that formed the basis of the offence.
(g) whether the organization was — or any of its representatives who were involved in the commission of the offence were — convicted of a similar offence or sanctioned by a regulatory body for similar conduct.
(h) any penalty imposed by the organization on a representative for their role in the commission of the offence.
(i) any restitution that the organization is ordered to make or any amount that the organization has paid to a victim of the offence; and
(j) any measures that the organization has taken to reduce the likelihood of it committing a subsequent offence.

2003, c. 21, s. 14.

Punishment Generally

Degrees of punishment
718.3. (1) Where an enactment prescribes different degrees or kinds of punishment in respect of an offence, the punishment to be imposed is, subject to the limitations prescribed in the enactment, in the discretion of the court that convicts a person who commits the offence.

Discretion respecting punishment
(2) Where an enactment prescribes a punishment in respect of an offence, the punishment to be imposed is, subject to the limitations prescribed in the enactment, in the discretion of the court that convicts a person who commits the offence, but no punishment is a minimum punishment unless it is declared to be a minimum punishment.

Imprisonment in default where term not specified
(3) Where an accused is convicted of an offence punishable with both fine and imprisonment and a term of imprisonment in default of payment of the fine is not specified in the enactment that prescribes the punishment to be imposed, the imprisonment that may be imposed in default of payment shall not exceed the term of imprisonment that is prescribed in

Cumulative punishments
(4) The court or youth justice court that sentences an accused may direct that the terms of imprisonment that are imposed by the court or the youth justice court or that result from the operation of subsection 734(4) or 743.5(1) or (2) shall be served consecutively, when

(a) the accused is sentenced while under sentence for an offence, and a term of imprisonment, whether in default of payment of a fine or otherwise, is imposed;
(b) the accused is found guilty or convicted of an offence punishable with both a fine and imprisonment and both are imposed;
(c) the accused is found guilty or convicted of more than one offence, and
(i) more than one fine is imposed,
(ii) terms of imprisonment for the respective offences are imposed, or
(iii) a term of imprisonment is imposed in respect of one offence and a fine is imposed in respect of another offence; or

(d) subsection 743.5(1) or (2) applies. 1995, c. 22, s. 6; 1997, c. 18, s. 141; 2002, c. 1, s. 182.

The Criminal Code lists these principles as follows:

Fundamental principle
718.1. A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.

R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 156; 1995, c. 22, s. 6.

Other sentencing principles
718.2. A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

(a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

(i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.

(ii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused the offender’s spouse or common-law partner.

(ii.1) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a person under the age of eighteen years.

(iii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim.

(iv) evidence that the offence was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization.

(v) evidence that the offence was a terrorism offence.

shall be deemed to be aggravating circumstances.

(b) a sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances.

(c) where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh.

(d) an offender should not be deprived of liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate in the circumstances.

(e) all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.

1995, c. 22, s. 6; 1997, c. 23, s. 17; 2000, c. 12, s. 95; 2001, c. 32, s. 44(F), c. 41, s. 20; 2005, c. 32, s. 25.

Purpose 718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

To denounce unlawful conduct.

To deter the offender and other persons from committing offences.

To separate offenders from society, where necessary.

To assist in rehabilitating offenders.

To provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community.

To promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims and to the community.


R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 718; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 155; 1995, c. 22, s. 6.

Imposing of conditional sentence
742.1. If a person is convicted of an offence, other than a serious personal injury offence as defined in section 752, 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 set out in sections 718 to 718.2, 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 the conditions imposed under section 742.3.

1992, c. 11, s. 16; 1995, c. 19, s. 38, c. 22, s. 6; 1997, c. 18, s. 107.1; 2007, c. 12, s. 1.

752. “serious personal injury offence” means

(a) an indictable offence, other than high treason, treason, first degree murder or second degree murder, involving
(i) the use or attempted use of violence against another person.
(ii) conduct endangering or likely to endanger the life or safety of another person or inflicting or likely to inflict severe psychological damage on another person, and for which the offender may be sentenced to imprisonment for ten years or more.
(b) an offence or attempt to commit an offence mentioned in section 271 (sexual assault), 272 (sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm) or 273 (aggravated sexual assault).

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 752; 2008, c. 6, ss. 40, 61.