This is the big one of course. A jail sentences is usually reserved for serious offences and for repeat offenders. The sentence begins on the day it is handed down in court. Virtually all summary offences carry a maximum jail sentence of six months, so someone sentenced to longer than that has almost certainly been convicted of an indictable offence.

Sentences of less than two years are normally served in prisons which are usually closer to where the offender lives making it easier for them to remain in contact with family members. Sentences of two years or more are served in federal penitentiaries, which may or may not be in the offender’s home province.

Multiple jail sentences are usually served concurrently rather than consecutively. This means that if someone is charged with three counts of drug trafficking – and sentenced to six months in jail for each count – the sentence is actually for six months in jail total rather than 18 months.

Normally people are only given consecutive sentences when they commit a crime while they are in jail or under supervision. In these cases the sentence for the additional offence is normally served at the end of the sentence they are currently serving.

People are often sentenced to probation in addition to a jail sentence. Normally the probation begins when the jail sentence ends. The only exception to this is when someone is given an “intermittent sentence,” meaning they serve their jail sentence on weekends. This type of sentence is usually given for minor offences and it allows the individual to keep going to work and leading a normal life during the week. It can be given for a maximum of 90 days and it is normally served at a rate of three days per week. Someone given probation and an intermittent sentence will serve both at the same time.

Jail sentences of longer than two years are reserved for very serious crimes. People convicted of three or more sentences of two years or longer are permanently disqualified from applying for a pardon / record suspension, even if the sentences ran concurrently.


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