What is a sentencing hearing in a criminal case?

1. Think about asking for a later date

After you're found guilty, sentencing may happen right away or at a later date. If sentencing is , this means it is postponed to a later date.

You or the Crown may ask for sentencing to be adjourned. The judge decides if an will be granted.

You may want to ask for a later date if you need time to prepare your statement, get letters of support from community members, or complete counselling or community service. The Crown may want a later date to give them time to ask for input from the victims of the crime.

The judge may also decide to sentencing to get a or .

Pre-Sentence Report

A officer writes the pre- report. This report helps the judge understand your background, current situation, and future opportunities. You, the judge, or the Crown may ask for a pre-sentence report. 

The pre-sentence report includes information about your:

  • age, maturity, character, behaviour, attitude, and remorse
  • any you've received in the past
  • mental health or substance use issues, if relevant

If you're a member of an Aboriginal community, or an African-Canadian, the pre-sentence report should also consider factors related to your heritage.

To prepare the report, the probation officer:

  • talks to you
  • talks to other people like doctors, counsellors, family members, and community members
  • reviews any medical or therapeutic reports provided

If you get a pre-sentence report, check that the report is accurate. Ask your lawyer or to help you review the report before your sentencing . If the report says things you disagree with, ask for proof. The Crown must prove what the report says. The judge should not consider any statements that can't be proven.

Victim impact statement

A victim impact statement can be written by the victim of your crime. It describes the physical or emotional harm, property damage, or financial loss they suffered. This statement helps the judge understand how the victim has been affected by the crime.

Ask your lawyer or duty counsel to help you review the statement before your sentencing hearing. They can advise you on whether the statement is relevant and admissible. Sometimes you can ask the judge to not consider parts of a statement that are not relevant to your case.

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