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Criminal Justice Information and Support

Community Sentences

A community sentence is an order by the judge requiring you to serve all or part of your sentence in the community for a specified period of time, usually under supervision of a probation officer. Here are some community sentences a judge can order.

Fines

A judge can sentence you to pay a fine as a stand-alone sentence or as part of a community sentence. If you are unable to pay the fine immediately, you can ask the judge to give you some time to pay it. You may have to say why you are not able to pay the fine immediately. If you do not pay the fine within the period set by the court, you may be charged for not paying the fine or sentenced to a jail term. If you think you are going to have trouble paying the fine in time, talk to the court registry about how to ask the judge for more time.

When a judge orders you to pay a fine, they will also order you to pay a victim surcharge. If you were convicted of an offence under the Criminal Code or Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the surcharge is an additional 30 per cent. If you were convicted under a provincial statute offence, it is an additional 15 per cent. The victim surcharge funds programs and services for victims.

Probation

A judge can order probation as a community sentence that may follow time spent in custody, or as part of another community sentence such as a fine. Probation is a sentence that requires you to follow certain conditions for a set period of time the judge decides. It can be up to three years. During that time, you must follow the rules in your probation order. Usually, that means you must keep the peace, be of good behaviour, report regularly to a probation officer and keep the probation officer informed of your current address. Depending on the offence, you may also have to avoid certain people, not use alcohol or drugs, attend counselling, pay back damages you caused to the victim or perform community service.

Conditional Sentence

A conditional sentence is a sentence you serve in the community, instead of in jail. Judges use conditional sentences only if they are satisfied you are not a danger to the community and do not have a history of failing to obey court orders. There are some situations in which a judge cannot give you a conditional sentence. For example, you cannot be given a conditional sentence if your sentence is longer than two years or the penalty for the offence requires a minimum jail term. A conditional sentence usually has strict conditions, including a curfew. If you disobey the conditions, a judge can order you to serve a portion or the remainder of your sentence in jail.

Suspended Sentence

Depending on your circumstances and the type of offence you committed, a judge may decide to put off sentencing you and instead place you on probation with conditions. This is referred to as suspending your sentence. If you do not obey the terms of your probation, you may be brought back to court and be subjected to a more serious sentence.

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