Reaching a verdict

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  • After the Crown and defence make their cases, it is time for the judge and/or jury to reach a decision about the guilt of the accused
  • Charge to the jury: judge reviews the law applying to the case, how certain evidence should be weighed, there needs to be intent etc.


  • Jury leaves the courtroom to discuss and find innocence/guilt of the accused
  • Determine the facts of the case (judge’s job is to determine the law)
  • Can ask to see evidence again
  • Throw out evidence that’s not believable
  • Judge the importance of the remaining evidence
  • Ex. Is the accused of 1st degree, 2nd degree murder OR manslaughter
    • Hung jury: when a jury cannot reach a decision: the trial must be re-set and re-done
    • Foreman (head juror) reads the verdict in court
    • R v G (R.M.)


  • Factors in sentencing: can include
  • Criminal code
  • Precedents
  • Charter of Rights/Freedoms
  • Accused’s criminal record
  • Pre-trial custody
  • Public opinion
  • Victim impact statement

Steps in sentencing

  • Pre sentence report: which describes the offender’s situation (lifestyle, prior convictions)
  • Crown/defence lawyers may respond to sentencing and call witnesses, have the offender make a statement

Imposing a sentence

  • Power of the judge: can determine the actual amount of months/years the sentence is to be
  • Ex. Maximum 25 yrs: judge determines the actual length of time
    • This is where the multiple factors come into effect – impact statements, will of Parliament: government’s stance on sentencing for certain crimes (length, time in jail/alternatives)
Sentencing, Appeals, and Prison

Goals of sentencing

  • Deterrence:
  • Sentencing should keep people from wanting to re-offend, and reflect the society’s lack of tolerance for breaking the law
  • Specific deterrence: to not commit the specific crime again
  • General deterrence: all citizens should not commit that specific crime
  • Rehabilitation:
  • The act of re socializing an offender back into society.
  • Job training
  • Counselling
  • Supervised parole
  • Reduce recidivism: returning to prison/committing new crimes
  • Retribution:
  • Not a sentencing objective
  • Supreme Court: “an objective…that properly reflects the moral culpability of the offender…the intentional risk taking of the offender, the harm caused by the offender, and the character of the offender’s conduct
  • Segregation:
  • To keep offenders from society
  • Currently, Canadian law is focusing on alternative methods to reduce the number of people in prison, though for serious crimes, prison is the only option
  • Punishment has to fit the crime
  • The most severe punishments are handed down to those who are most offensive to society
  • Mitigating circumstances: lessen the responsibility of the offender
  • Aggravating circumstances: increase the responsibility of the offender

Restorative Justice

  • Restorative justice: focuses on healing relationships – the offender, victim, the community
  • Used within the Aboriginal community
  • Sentencing circles: brings all parties together to express their opinions and determine a sentence
  • Healing circles: to resolve the conflict between victim and offender
  • Releasing circles: community, parole board, offender meet to prepare a successful return to the community

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