Statutory Maximum Penalties
The maximum available sentence for a given offence will be provided within the provisions defining the offence.
Given the distinction between summary offences and indictable offences, the maximum penalties for summary offences will always be less than indictable.
It is generally stated that the maximum penalty is not simply reserved for the "worst of the worst" offenders. All relevant factors must be considered and should only be considered appropriate where the "offence is of sufficient gravity and the offender displays sufficient blameworthiness".
To impose a maximum sentence it is necessary for the judge to take into account pre-sentence custody otherwise the sentence is effectively beyond the statutory maximum.
Summary Conviction Penalties
Where an offence is described as punishable by "summary conviction", section 787(1) states the punishment will be a fine of no more than $5,000 and/or 2 years less a day jail unless the offence specifies otherwise.
Other available summary offence maximums include 18 months jail.
However, under s. 735 where the accused is an organization, the summary conviction fine amount increases to $100,000.
On summary elections for hybrid offences, the court is bound by the maximum range set by parliament. However, the courts should not "scale up" or "scale down" the sentences due to the election.
On September 19, 2019, s. 787 was amended by 2019, c. 25 to increase the maximum penalty to two years less a day, up from six months. All offences committed prior to September 19, 2019 will likely benefit from the lesser penalty.
Indictable Offence Penalties
The maximum for indictable offences will always be specified in the provisions. The code will specify a maximum of 2, 5, 10, 14 years jail or life.
Where the offence does not specify a maximum penalty s. 743 will deem the maximum penalty as 5 years.
The only offence within the Criminal Code that does not specify a maximum penalty is an offence under s. 462.33(11).
Intimate Partner Violence
This provision was introduced September 19, 2019 and would only apply to those offences committed after that date.