What happens at a sentencing hearing in Ontario?

Nov 17, 2016

 If you are found guilty at a trial in Ontario, you must attend a sentencing hearing. Sentencing is when a judge orders the penalty of a guilty verdict. Sentencing can be done at the end of a trial or may also occur at a later date.

What is a sentencing hearing?

A sentencing hearing in Ontario is when the judge presiding over a criminal case gives a sentence to the offender. The offender will have either plead guilty or have been found guilty in a trial. Sentencing hearings can immediately follow a trial or take place months after a trial if the court adjourns.

Adjourning a sentencing happens more often for serious cases, this is so that the Crown and the offender’s lawyer can prepare to argue for a specific type of sentence. However, in other cases, lawyers representing both sides may agree on a sentencing, this is referred to as a joint submission. The length of a sentencing can vary based on the above factors.

What may might lawyers bring to a sentencing hearing?

If the Crown or offender’s attorney would like to argue for a type and length of sentence they can present reports and letters, called exhibits, to support their arguments, called submissions.

Exhibits may include:

  • A Victim Impact Statement VIS – report written by the victim, read by the victim or Crown attorney
  • Pre-Sentence Report PSR – reveals offender’s background, a report prepared by a probation officer

If the lawyers submit a joint submission to the judge, the judge is still is able to determine the final sentence. The judge may assign a different length or type of sentence.

Common Types of Sentences

The judge my give the following types of sentences:

  • Fine
  • Probation
  • Absolute discharge
  • Conditional discharge
  • Imprisonment
  • Conditional sentence
  • Intermittent sentence
  • Suspended sentence

Finding a Niagara Criminal Defense Lawyer

Being sentenced in a criminal case will affect you for the rest of your life, it is important that you hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent your interests throughout the case, including during sentencing. The St. Catharines Criminal lawyers of Chown Cairns have a wealth of expertise and experience in criminal law, connect with one of our lawyers below.