Conditional Sentences – or House Arrest

After a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial, she may be sentenced to a period of jail with probation to follow. If the appropriate sentence is 90 days or less, and she has a job during the week, she may be able to go to jail on weekends until her 90 days are served. If she fails to turn up one weekend, she will be charged with Unlawfully at Large and have a further charge and additional time – which will probably not be weekends.

Or a defendant may be sentenced to house arrest – a conditional sentence. This requires the person to remain home except for specific exceptions, such as work, religious worship, counselling, probation, shopping for essentials. Again it is important that the conditions be followed because a breach of a conditional sentence brings the defendant back before the same judge who can order that he spend the rest of his house arrest sentence in actual jail.

Please contact our office to get legal advice about your specific case. 416-469-3443.

Mental health and criminal charges

There are cases in the news recently of crimes committed by defendants possibly due to their mental health issues, which unfortunately stigmatizes all those with mental illnesses. Often when families are dealing with a child or spouse who has mental health issue they call the police hoping that the police can take them to the hospital. Usually, if there is also a report of bad behaviour such as threats, assaults or damage to property, the police have to arrest the person to provide protection to the victims/complainants. Most times these family members are taken to jail instead of the hospital.

The courts can only order treatment if the person is unable to recognize where they are and what is happening in the court, the court can not force someone to see a doctor or take medication if they do not want to. All the court can do is make it an order of bail or probation and if the person does not follow the conditions they will get re-arrested. Also the court may order that the defendant not contact the family members that have contacted the police as the complainant. This does not help those with mental illnesses.

Before calling the police, contact your family doctor, the nearest hospital or the Centre for mental health and addiction (CAMH) at or (416) 535-8501 or 1(800) 463-2338 toll free and get a diagnosis and help for your family member.

When to plead guilty?

The recent case Regina v. Muzzo s an example of an accused person pleading guilty before he has had a bail hearing or perhaps seen much of the Crown’s case. The Crown’s case or disclosure is the information the Crown has to prosecute the case. This may include witness statements, photographs, videos, statement by the accused person. Remember any statements you make will always be used against you – that is to make the case of the Crown stronger. Often an accused pleads guilty, to get it over with. They are tired of going to court and waiting for hours.

But pleading guilty may get you short term relief but long term trouble. With a criminal record, you may not be able to volunteer at your kid’s school or coach your daughter’s basketball team. You might have difficulty crossing the border (especially for drugs) or even getting the job you are over-qualified for. Your criminal record, will be forever unless you get a record suspension, which are only for certain charges.If you are told you will receive a fine, or suspended sentence, probation or weekends, remember these are all criminal convictions.

Before thinking of pleading guilty, contact our office at 416-469-3443 and we will review your disclosure with you or you can speak to duty counsel in the court that you are in. It is important that you do not rush into anything just to get it over with.