If you enter a guilty plea or are found guilty after a trial, the imposition of a sentence (ie: punishment) follows. The role of the sentencing judge is to determine a fit and appropriate sentence on a case-by-case basis. The judge would consider several factors such as the offence, the facts of the offence, mitigating/aggravating circumstances, case law, and your personal circumstances.
Can I Avoid a Criminal Record?
In short, it depends. There are sentences that do not attach to a conviction, which are available in limited instances. Sentences that come with no criminal record entries are:
Absolute Discharge: A finding of guilt is made, but no conviction is entered, and no conditions are imposed. After one year, an absolute discharge will no longer appear on your criminal record.
Conditional Discharge: A finding of guilt is made, but no conviction is entered. Attached to the sentence will be a period of probation. The conditional discharge remains on your criminal record for three years after the date you are sentenced. After that three year period, the conditional discharge will be removed from your criminal record.
Can I Avoid Going to Jail?
In some cases, a sentence can be served in the community.
Suspended sentence: The sentencing judge orders the suspension of the sentence, followed by a period of probation. When you receive a suspended sentence, a conviction will register, and you will have a criminal record.
Fines: A payment is payment to the court, and a conviction will be entered.
Conditional Sentence: This is a sentence of incarceration served in the community, rather than in a jail. This is commonly referred to as “house arrest”.
Can I Serve Jail on the Weekends?
Known as an Intermittent Sentence, if your sentence is a period of custody of 90 days or less, you can ask for that time to be served on the weekends. In making this request, the court will often require proof of why this should be accommodated. Examples of reasons for receiving an intermittent sentence including medical issues or employment.