Sentences for Criminal Offences

A general guide to sentences given for various criminal offences

Sentences for criminal offences vary greatly. This is especially noticeable when comparing Summary Offences such as participating in an unlawful assembly versus an Indictable Offence, such as murder. However, even when comparing the minor Summary Offences to the major ones, there is a difference in the sentences imposed.

When the court convicts an accused, the sentence imposed is not as simple as you may believe. Although some offences have minimum sentences, judges do not typically codify sentences; rather, they derive them from common law cases, which help justify appropriate sentencing. As stated by the Supreme Court in R v. M.(C.A.): “Sentencing is an inherently individualized process, and the search for a single appropriate sentence for a similar offender and a similar crime will frequently be a fruitless exercise of academic abstraction.”

What follows is a breakdown of sentences imposed by the courts for a few various offences.

Section 266, Assault


266 Every one who commits an assault is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

When imposing sentences, judges must look at the circumstances surrounding the offence. This may lead to aggravating or mitigating factors when sentencing. Take, for instance, R. v Dendekker, 2015 ONSC 8021, Justice Conlan. When sentencing for counts on indictment, Justice Conlan looked to various aggravating and mitigating factors to weigh the decision. Justice Conlin found that "The chief aggravating factor is that Mr. Dendekker displayed, repeatedly, a callous disregard for the personal well-being of the person, Ms. Tucker, that he was in a relationship with.  This was not an isolated incident." While "The mitigating factors include the guilty pleas, the lack of any prior criminal record of any sort, the very positive presentence report, and Mr. Dendekker’s efforts to address the underlying issues and make amends, through counselling and restitution."

The case ended with a suspended sentence, 18 months probation, a DNA order, and a firearms prohibition order.

Section 334, Theft Not Exceeding $5,000

Punishment for theft

334 Except where otherwise provided by law, every one who commits theft

(a) if the property stolen is a testamentary instrument or the value of what is stolen is more than $5,000, is guilty of

(i) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years, or

(ii) an offence punishable on summary conviction; or

(b) if the value of what is stolen is not more than $5,000, is guilty

(i) of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or

(ii) of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

In R. v. Sabatine, 2012 ONCJ 310, Justice Leroy sentenced Joshua Sabatine to a total of the equivalent of 277 days in custody. This includes 145 days in custody at the enhanced rate of 1.5:1 for an equivalent of 218 days, meaning that due to the accused being in custody before conviction, the accused received extra credit for that time. The court gave Mr. Sabatine another 19 days at straight credit from incarceration for a bail violation, which wasn't eligible for enhanced credit. He was then enhanced credit of 1.5:1 equaling 31 days for time served while awaiting sentencing. This totaled 268 days. Justice Leroy then sentenced Mr. Sabatine to a further 9 days, for a total of 277 days in custody.

Further to his custodial sentence, Mr. Sabatine also had a probation order for 12 months.

This page will be ongoing to discuss further sentencing concepts.

Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.
William Lloyd Garrison, In his Life, Volume III, p. 390.