Peace Bonds, Discharges and Suspended Sentences
With a peace bond (s.810 or Common Law), there is no admission of guilt or wrongdoing. It is merely an agreement of certain facts relating to the incident and a promise to keep the peace with another party.
If a person is to plead ‘guilty’, a discharge is the most favourable sentence that one can get. Discharges are not permanent records in that they are supposed to be expunged after a certain amount of time. This can range from anywhere between 6 months to three years.
The main difference between a conditional discharge and an absolute discharge is the fact that a conditional discharge comes with ‘conditions’ that you have to follow (probation etc.) for a set period of time. An absolute discharge on the other hand has no conditions attached to it.
While neither is a conviction, they are both a finding of guilt. Practically speaking, with a discharge you can honestly say that you’ve never been convicted of the offence, but you can’t say that you’ve never been found guilty of an offence.
Like a conditional discharge, a suspended sentence involves following conditions in a probation period for a period of one to three years.
The real difference between a conditional discharge and a suspended sentence is that a conviction is registered against you. This means you’ll have a criminal record and will have to apply for a pardon to have the conviction removed from your record.