A conditional sentence is a term of imprisonment that the Court allows you to serve in the community. The conditional sentencing regime is set out at section 742.1 of the Criminal Code. It is often referred to as "house arrest", though that is an over-simplification of the term. In actuality, a conditional sentence can be quite flexible. Often, the impetus behind the imposition of a conditional sentence is so that the offender can maintain their employment. Thus, in addition to a period of house-arrest of less than 2 years, the court will routinely impose exceptions, such as the ability to attend work, school, rehabilitative programs, or religious services. Moreover, exceptions are typically given such that the offender is able to obtain the necessities of life, typically in a four hour block on the weekends.
Not all Criminal Code offences are eligible for conditional jail sentences. Any sentence that contains a mandatory minimum, is ineligible. This automatically excludes impaired driving convictions where the Crown elects to "file notice." Some offences are eligible for a conditional sentence, so long as the Crown elects to proceed summarily. The Criminal Code changes regularly, and the offences that are and aren't eligible have been the topic of heated debate in the legislature in recent years. An exhaustive analysis of which offences are eligible is not possible in this article. If you wish to inquire whether your charges are conditional-sentence-eligible, contact a criminal defence lawyer directly.