A criminal conviction does not automatically mean a jail sentence. In some instances, depending on the circumstances and the allegations, judges have access to alternative sentencing options, instead of imposing a jail sentence the Judge could consider probation as an appropriate alternative.
Probation is not to be considered a sentence but rather a component in addition to a sentence, or in combination with other sentencing options. Further, probation is an Order by a judge to follow conditions that the Judge finds appropriate in the circumstances of the offender and the allegation. The maximum length of a Probation Order in Canada is three years.
The Probation Order will list the conditions that a defendant must follow for the duration of the order – most orders range from one to two years. Any offender receiving a conditional discharge or suspended sentence must receive a probation order.
The probation order will outline conditions outline that the offender must comply with for the duration of the order. A common condition on probation, particularly for people convicted of violent offences, is to not possess any weapons or apply for firearm licenses and permits.
Mandatory conditions that are a part of every probation order include:
- Keep the peace and be of good behaviour
- Appear in Court when necessary
- Report any changes in address
- Report any changes in occupation
Depending on the circumstances of the offender and the offence judges will attempt to impose conditions are the most appropriate and can include:
- Report to regularly to a probation
- Do not own or possess any weapons
- Not to possess or consume any drugs or alcohol
- Not to contact with a specific person or persons, or be anywhere near them
- Attend counselling for addiction or other disorders
- To remain in school or to find employment
- Complete community service
All additional conditions must be detailed, enforceable, and relevant to the offence and rehabilitation. Failure to follow the conditions as directed will lead to a breach of probation.
Breach of Probation
Breaching probation can result in further charges, more severe future sentencing, and revocation of the probation order. Anyone who fails or refuses to comply with the conditions of the order, without reasonable excuse, is guilty of an offence.
The implication of “without reasonable excuse” is that the burden of proving there was no willful failure or refusal to comply falls on the defendant. Prior to that addition, it was up to the Crown to prove that there was a willful failure or refusal. This makes it all the more important to seek out a criminal defence lawyer when charged with a breach of probation offence.
A breach can be tried as a summary or an indictable offence. A summary conviction has a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. An indictable conviction has a maximum penalty of 4 years imprisonment.
The most common breaches of probation are:
- Failure to pay restitution
- Failure to reside
Hire A Toronto Criminal Defence Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been charged with failure to comply with a probation order, hiring a criminal defence lawyer is your best option. Your criminal lawyer will help you understand your options, their potential outcomes, and guide you through the process.
William Jaksa is a criminal lawyer who will help you work to get the best possible outcome. He will ensure the Crown can prove that the breached order was in effect, and that you are the individual subjected to the order, as well as that they can prove that your actions violated the order. If possible, he will help you demonstrate any circumstances that constitute a reasonable excuse for the breach of probation.
Contact William Jaksa today for a consultation.