Sentencing Principles and Purposes

In deciding the appropriate sentence for an adult, the court is governed by sentencing purposes and principles in the Criminal Code.

Sentencing contributes to respect for the law and to a just, peaceful and safe society. A sentence’s objectives can be to:

  • Deter the offender or others from committing future crimes
  • Remove an offender from society to prevent future crimes
  • Tailor the punishment to further the offender’s rehabilitation
  • Provide reparations for harm done to victims or the community
  • Promote a sense of responsibility in offenders and acknowledgment of the harm they have done to victims and community

Some principles a court must consider in deciding on an adult’s sentence include:

  • A sentence should be similar to that imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances
  • An offender should not be deprived of liberty, if a less restrictive way of dealing with the case is appropriate in the circumstances
  • All available punishments other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of Indigenous offenders

In comparison, sentencing purposes and principles for youth focus on rehabilitating youth and reintegrating them into society.