What is a conditional or absolute discharge?

If you're found guilty of a crime, you will be sentenced by the judge. The judge decides your sentence based on what they think is appropriate and reasonable.

The type of you can get depends on:

  • the crime you've been found guilty of
  • the circumstances of the crime
  • your personal circumstances

A sentence can range from no jail time, called a discharge, to having to go to jail.

When you're , you don't get a criminal conviction. You won't have a criminal record unless you had one before. But there will be a temporary record of your discharge for a specific period of time.

There are two types of discharges:

Absolute discharge

If you get an absolute discharge:

  • you will not be on
  • your record of discharge will be kept on file for 1 year

Conditional discharge

If you get a conditional discharge:

  • you will be on probation for up to 3 years
  • your record of discharge will be kept on file for 3 years

Your record of discharge is automatically removed after 1 or 3 years, depending on the type of discharge. You do not have to ask to have the record removed.

A discharge that is still on file can impact your life in many ways. For example:

  • You may not be able to get jobs working with vulnerable people, such as children or the elderly.
  • You may not be able to get jobs that require security clearance.
  • You may not be able to travel or have problems when you do.
  • The police may treat you differently if they know you have a record of discharge.
  • Some countries may not recognize conditional discharges as non-convictions. You may be treated as though you have a conviction when traveling to these countries.

If you're of a new crime during your probation, your discharge can be revoked. Instead of the discharge you had before, you can be given a conviction that results in a criminal record, and a new sentence. 

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