What is a Legal Discharge?

Written by Jerry Steele

Criminal Defence

What is a Legal Discharge?

Written by Jerry Steele

Criminal Defence
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For more than 20 years, Steele Law has successfully guided individuals and business entities through the unique challenges posed by criminal and regulatory investigations, as well as prosecutions in state and federal courts nationwide.
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Upon being found guilty by a judge, they may discharge you instead of convicting you. This means you will not have a criminal record, and the charges against you will be dropped. In some cases, a legal discharge may be conditional, meaning certain requirements or restrictions must be followed to avoid further consequences.

Understanding Legal Discharges

Let’s dive deeper into the different types of legal discharges and what they mean for you.

Conditional Discharge 

Under a conditional discharge, your record won’t show a conviction. However, as its name suggests, this comes with certain conditions—you must meet certain conditions set by the judge for your record to remain clear of the conviction. 

Some conditions may include completing community service, attending counselling or treatment programs, or staying out of trouble for a certain period. You may also be required to pay the victim of your crime (if there was one) restitution. 

If you fail to meet these conditions, your discharge may be revoked, and the conviction will appear on your record. If you successfully complete these conditions, your record will remain clear. 

Upon completing your probation, the record of your conditional discharge will remain on your criminal record for three years.

Absolute Discharge

An absolute discharge is essentially a clean slate. This means no conditions are attached to the discharge, and you will not have a criminal record. However, the record of your absolute discharge will be on your record for one year.

Are All Cases Eligible for Legal Discharge in Canada?

No, not all cases are eligible for a legal discharge. 

As Section 730(1) of the Canadian Criminal Code explains:

“Where an accused, other than an organization, pleads guilty to or is found guilty of an offence, other than an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed by law or an offence punishable by imprisonment for fourteen years or for life, the court before which the accused appears may, if it considers it to be in the best interests of the accused and not contrary to the public interest, instead of convicting the accused, by order direct that the accused be discharged absolutely or on the conditions prescribed in a probation order made under subsection 731(2).”

How to Get a Legal Discharge

Naturally, a legal discharge is a more appealing consequence than a criminal conviction. But how exactly do you get a legal discharge, provided your case is eligible for one? The first and most important thing to do is hire a top BC criminal lawyer to defend you and fight for this outcome. 

Your lawyer must present a strong case to the judge on why you deserve a legal discharge, such as demonstrating your good character, lack of prior convictions, and taking responsibility for your actions. Additionally, your lawyer must argue that a legal discharge is in the interest of both you and society. 

Contact Jerry Steele for a Strong Defence

Jerry Steele is the lawyer you want on your side for this kind of case. With years of experience defending clients in BC, he has the knowledge and expertise to navigate your case and fight for a legal discharge or another outcome more preferable than a criminal conviction. Don’t wait; contact Jerry Steele today for a powerful defence: 778-700-0012.