What is a Conditional Sentence Order (CSO)?
A Conditional Sentence Order (CSO), commonly known as house arrest, is a jail sentence that the judge allows to be served in the community. A CSO is considered a “last hope” sentence before significant jail time is imposed.
The maximum sentence that can be imposed under a CSO is 24 months. During this time, you can expect to be on house arrest 24 hours a day. This means that you will be required to stay home at all times, with limited exceptions.
Exceptions to 24-hour house arrest
Typical exceptions to house arrest include:
- Religious services;
- Medical and professional appointments;
- Reporting to probation; and
- Shopping for necessities (e.g., food, medical supplies).
Aside from exceptions that are specifically included in your CSO, you are obligated to stay home.
Who is Eligible for a Conditional Sentence Order (CSO)?
There are several pre-conditions to receiving a CSO, including that:
- There must be no minimum sentence required by law for the offence;
- The appropriate sentence for the offence must not be two or more years;
- The offence must not specifically disqualify receiving a CSO in the Criminal Code of Canada (the “Code”);
- The offence must not be classified as a “serious personal injury offence”; and
- There must be no danger of re-offending if a CSO is imposed.
The specific guidelines for imposing a CSO are found in section 742.1 of the Code:
Section 742.1(f) of the Code goes on to list offences that are automatically disqualified from CSO eligibility. Examples include offences that are prosecuted by way of indictment under the following provisions of the Code:
- Sexual assault (section 271);
- Kidnapping (section 279);
- Motor Vehicle Theft (section 333.1);
- Theft Over $5000 (section 334(a));
- Arson for a Fraudulent Purpose (section 435); and
- Criminal Harassment (section 264).
What Happens If I Breach My Conditional Sentence Order (CSO)?
Perhaps the most significant difference between a probation order and a CSO is that if you breach a CSO, the judge will first and foremost consider sending you to jail for the remainder of the CSO term.
For example, if you receive a two-year CSO, and breach your conditions 6 months into the order, once the breach is proven, the judge can immediately send you to jail for the remaining 18 months.
That said, the judge reviewing the breach has a range of other options available, so it is important to review each of them with your lawyer to see if another alternative will suffice.
Our criminal defence lawyers are skilled at exploring all defence avenues to obtain the best result for our client.
If a conviction is inevitable, we will work to convince the judge that a jail sentence is not necessary, and instead advocate for a CSO, discharge, or probation order, where circumstances allow.
If you already have a CSO and have breached it, we will review other sentencing alternatives to minimize the chances you will have to complete the term of imprisonment.
Regardless of what stage you are at in your criminal proceedings, we are here to help. Contact us at Strategic Criminal Defence today so we can begin advocating for you.