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  Weekly Feature: (November 1, 2003)


Do the Crime - Do the Time?
Crime, Court, and Conditional Sentencing
Helen's Weekly Feature



CRIME (definition): an action or conduct that is against the law – forbidden

There are two levels of crime:

Indictable is more serious

e.g. -Theft over $5 000 - Murder, treason, - impaired driving causing death or bodily harm -breaking and entering

Summary is less serious

e.g. -Smoking on an aircraft where prohibited (not allowed) -causing a disturbance in a public place -taking someone’s car without permission

COURT (definition): Federal or Provincial place where lawyers discuss a person’s crime and a judge decides if the offender should be convicted and punished and what that punishment should be.

SENTENCE (definition): the punishment given to a person who has been convicted (found guilty) of a crime. It may be time spent in jail, and/or community hours (eg. Helping bag groceries at the food bank), and/or probation (must report to a probation officer as required)

OFFENDER (definition): the person who is said to have done a crime “Do the Time” is slang for “spend time in prison”

CONDITIONAL SENTENCE (definition): a new type of punishment (since 1996) for a crime the judge would give a two-year prison term for but instead sends the offender home to “do the time” at home in the community – ( certain restrictions included)

A convicted criminal serving a Conditional Sentence can: continue to go to work, play sports, be with family, go to movies, go to school, etc.

Restrictions (conditions) may include some of the following:

-be at home during certain hours – e.g. between 11 PM and 6 AM
-be of good behaviour (conduct) and keep the peace
-abstain (do not use) alcohol, drugs, own weapons
-support or care for dependents (e.g. Children)
-perform up to 240 hours of community service
-attend a treatment program (at probation officer’s direction)
-obey any reasonable conditions that the court believes will improve offender’s behavior and prevent further criminal actions

HISTORY: Conditional Sentencing came into effect in 1996 in Canada.
The Federal Government designed this legislation to be used to allow certain offenders who have been sentenced to prison for less than two years and do not, in the judges opinion pose a danger to society, to serve their sentences in the community.

This option would:

- save money
- reduce crowding in jails
-increase the use of restorative justice

The main purposes of sentencing (Criminal Code Section 718) is to:

– prevent crime
- encourage respect for law
- maintain a just, peaceful and safe society
- denounce unlawful conduct
- separate the offender from society
- rehabilitate the offender, promote a sense of responsibility in the offender, to understand and admit to the harm done.

Conditional Sentences were NOT intended to be used for criminal (indictable) offences such as causing death or bodily harm to another person; armed robbery

However, recently a Conditional Sentence has been used for people convicted of a criminal offence in a case of road racing that caused the death of a woman walking along Marine Drive in Vancouver.

-The two young men involved were convicted and given conditional sentences
- they will do the time at home, be on probation for 3 years, serve a 5-year driving ban, do 240 hours of community service with the police to speak to youths about the dangers of street racing.

-The judge said the men were unlikely to re-offend (do this crime again) and they were not considered a danger to public safety.


Do the Crime - Do the Time? Matching 1

Do the Crime - Do the Time? Matching 2

Do the Crime - Do the Time? Multiple Choice

Web Links:

Frequently Asked Questions about the Law

Mothers against Drunk Driving

Canadian Department of Justice


Visit Last Week's Feature:
Using the Correct Verb

Weekly Feature Index (Includes all 2002 to date Weekly Features with descriptions)


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