A Probation Order has become a far too common component of a person’s sentence. Probation Orders contain conditions that must be followed for the term of the order. Failing to comply with a probation condition can result in serious consequences.
The conditions imposed on a Probation Order should reflect the nature of the allegation behind the conviction and the personal circumstances of the offender. Conditions such as attending counselling, not to have contact with specific people, and seek employment are typical examples of conditions that can be included. Generally, all probation orders include:
- Good behaviour
- Reporting to probation officers (including updating changes of address, name, or job)
- Keeping the peace
- Attend court appearances
Common Breaches of Probation
Breach of any probation orders and conditions can result in consequences. Two of the most common breach of probation include:
- Failure to Pay Restitution
- Failure to Comply with Non-Communication Order
Not Paying Restitution
Failure to pay restitution is becoming a more common issue in probation breaches in Toronto. A restitution order is part of a criminal sentence. It requires the offender to pay the victim for financial losses resulting from the crime. The court can demand restitution is paid immediately, set a date to pay it by, or assign a payment plan.
Restitution can be ordered for financial losses that can include:
- Lost wages.
- Damage or loss of property.
- Temporary housing, transportation resulting from harm or threat of harm.
- Re-establishing credit history/rating (in even of fraud or identity theft).
- Costs of removing non-consensual images from the internet
Failure to Comply With a Non-Communication Order
The rise of social media and changing communication methods have made non-communication orders a common source of breach of probation. The judge can restrict the offender while on probation from direct or indirect communication with specific persons. Usually, anybody directly associated with committing the offence and anybody impacted by the offence.
A non-communication, or no-contact order, is not limited to verbal interaction. A rude gesture made towards the victim constitutes a breach of a non-communication order.
As well, any interaction on social media should be avoided, even liking a picture on Facebook may create a breach of a probation order. A no-contact condition is only made against the offender. If the victim, or subject of the non-communication order, decides to initiate contact it is still the offender that can be held liable for answering. Responding can put the offender at risk of breaching bail or probation conditions.
Failing to comply with a non-communication order while on bail can lead to additional charges and revocation of bail. It will also make it more difficult for future releases. Breaches while on probation can lead to additional charges and convictions with increasing fines and jail sentences.
Jail Sentences for Breaching Probation are Common
A jail sentence is a common punishment for breaching a Probation Order. Breaching probation is a hybrid offence, which allows the Crown to seek increased sentences depending on the severity and the circumstance surrounding the breach.
A probation order is most common when a conditional discharge is granted. Being granted a discharge meant that the Judge did not believe a criminal record was warranted in the circumstances, but now breaching a condition of the probation order could result in a conviction and criminal record. A conviction for breaching or failing to comply with probation can result in a criminal record and will have implication when crossing the American border.
Punishments Ranges for Breaching Probation
Punishments for being convicted of breach a probation order can range from an absolute discharge to a 4-year jail sentence. The allegations and the discretion of the prosecuting Crown Attorney will determine if the matter will proceed by summary conviction or by indictment.
A minor breach of a probation condition upon conviction may result in an absolute discharge if the circumstance were such that a judge believed the breach was minimal. However, most judges take these breaches seriously as the offender has directly disobeyed an order from a judge. It is common for judges to impose “short-and-sharp” jail sentences in the range of 7 to 30 days for even minor breaches.
A serious breach of probation could result in the Crown proceeding by way of indictment and if convicted could result in a maximum of a 4-year custodial sentence.