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  • Joseph Horrigan

Possible Resolutions to being Charged Criminally

One question all criminal lawyers get on almost a daily basis is what is going to happen to me now that I’ve been charged? For those dealing with criminal charges for the first time it is a very foreign and intimidating process they are thrust into. In this blog I will briefly explain the most common potential outcomes for criminal charges. As you will see there is a very wide range of potential outcomes each with varying degrees of intrusion into an accused individuals’ liberties.

Having Charges Withdrawn- When someone is charged with a criminal offence it is the beginning of what can be a lengthy process. Well before the matter ever gets to a trial there are numerous steps along the process that involve discussions with defence counsel and the crown attorney. If at any point the crown attorney determines for a number of reasons that the case no longer has a reasonable prospect of conviction or it is no longer in the public interest to proceed with the charges, they can request the charges be withdrawn in court.

810 (or common law peace bond)- An 810 also commonly referred to as a peace bond is an order of the court that compels an individual to keep the peace and be of good behavior for a set amount of time. These orders are often accompanied by a non communication condition with the individual whom the court determined on a balance of probabilities had reasonable grounds to fear the defendant. It is possible for a defence attorney and the crown to come to an agreement that criminal charges will be withdrawn upon the accused agreeing to enter into a bond.

Absolute Discharge-. A court can order an offender be discharged absolutely. That means the judge finds that guilt has been established but determines there is no need to register a conviction or impose any punishment through a probation type order.

Conditional discharge-A conditional Discharge is similar to an absolute discharge in that there is a finding of guilt but no convictions is registered. However, unlike the absolute discharge with a conditional discharge the accused is given conditions the must follow through a probation order. To gain the benefit of the discharge the accused must comply with the conditions for there duration (the conditions are usually in place for 1-3 years).

Probation Order- A judge is able to sentence a person to probation. Probation orders can be up to three years and come with some mandatory conditions such as keep the peace and be of good behaviour, attend court when required to do so and notify probation of any change of name or address. Probation orders can carry additional conditions that a judge deems appropriate on a case-by-case basis. These could include weapons prohibitions, non attendance or noncommunication clauses, or counselling conditions. Probation can be ordered as a sentence on its own or it can be attached with another sentence such as a custodial sentence or a fine.

CSO (Conditional Sentence order)- A CSO is more commonly spoke of as house arrest. Here the judge determines that an appropriate punishment for an offence is a custodial one but allows the individual to serve that sentence in the community. The maximum length of the sentence is one where the court determines the appropriate amount of custody would be 2 years less a day. The exact terms of the house arrest will be determined by the sentencing judge.

Custodial Sentence- Lastly a judge is able to sentence an offender to a custodial disposition. There is great variance in length for these sentences and will be determined by the sentencing judge within the guidelines of an mandatory maximum or minimum sentencing provisions in the criminal code.

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