An absolute discharge, the best sentence for a defendant found guilty

An absolute discharge is the best sentence for a person found guilty of having committed a violation of the Criminal Code of Canada. The defendant benefiting from this measure provided under Section 730 of the Criminal Code, is deemed not having been convicted of the violation.

The Judge may grant an absolute disharge to a person found guilty of an offence for which the law does not require any minimum sentence or which is not punishable by a jail sentence of fourteeen years or more, and also, if the Judge considers it is in the best interest of the defendant without interfering with public interest. The defendant benefiting from this measure, according to the definition provided under Section 730 of the Criminal Code, is deemed not have been convicted of the offence. Therefore, an absolute discharge is beneficial for defendants who are looking for work or who wish to travel to the United States for instance. Judges generally prefer to grant an absolute discharge when the case involves facts of lesser gravity or to a defendant who has no criminal records.

Although clients benefiting from an absolute discharge do not have any criminal record per se, many of them worry about a discharge potentially appearing under their name in public registers. It has to be understood that appearing before a Judge is initially visible in several places: in Court records as well as in police information centres. It is possible to ask the Court, one year after the discharge, to have the information contained in Court records concealed. A similar request has to be submitted to the police force that carried out the arrest. See how to request deletion of fingerprints.

The definition of an absolute discharge is found under Sections 730 and 731 of the Criminal Code. It is a measure that makes it possible for defendants to avoid having a criminal record, because they are deemed to not be convicted of the offence (even though they have nevertheless been found guilty).

Visit our bulletins to find examples of cases in which absolute discharge were granted to client of our criminal lawyers.