What Are The Five Major Types of Criminal Punishment?

Understanding the different types of criminal punishment is a crucial part of being a responsible citizen. They vary in severity, and some are more common than others—e.g., assault vs. battery in Canada, but it’s important to know what they all entail so you can avoid them as much as possible.

In this blog post, we’ll go over five major types of criminal punishments.

5 Major Types of Criminal Punishment in Canada

The five major types of criminal punishment known so far:

  1. Retribution
  2. Deterrence
  3. Rehabilitation
  4. Incapacitation
  5. Restoration.

The following list helps judges and juries to decide which punishments are suitable for the crime committed in their context:


This form of punishment calls for a fair and satisfactory decision for the offender. And for the benefit of society, many lawmakers approve of this punishment. Because this punishment calls for the safest route for them. In this situation, the offender will receive appropriate punishment, not too harsh or too mild.

The court can sentence you to punishments like speeding tickets, year-long sentences, and so on. Lawmakers are usually the ones in charge of casting the decisions of the sentence.


Deterrence focuses on working as prevention to crime for the long-term view. There are two types, one is specific deterrence and the other is general deterrence.

Specific deterrence deals with conditioning the individual to commit fewer or no crimes in the future with the dangling fear of receiving a worse punishment later on.

Meanwhile, general deterrence makes any individual in society fear committing a crime after seeing the severe repercussions of another sentence for else’s crime.


Rehabilitation intends to improve an offender’s life by improving their mindset. A criminal’s behavior will slowly develop with the help of therapy, counseling, and other programs like vocational education or placement of treatment care onto the criminal for complete control of his activities.

This way, the judge and jury can also participate in rehabilitation programs to actively find safer sentencing for the betterment of the criminal. Recidivism can be lowered this way, with prisoners finding it less necessary to opt to commit further crimes in later life after prison.

Rehabilitation is the most recommended punishment system in Canada and the USA at the moment right now. Other forms of punishment can further induce crime with the theory of reinforcement by B.F. Skinner.


Incapacitation is one of the oldest methods of punishment out there. And one of the harshest, too. An incapacitated person will be removed from any public appearance and be under house arrest but usually in state prisons. A jail is typically sufficient for a person who has committed simple felonies. In adverse cases, the offender will be executed.

Rehabilitation and Recidivism are not usually co-align with this method. But rehabilitation can offer only in harsh sentences. Furthermore, recidivism reaches higher rates in countries that deliberate incapacitation.


This approach is use chiefly for juvenile crimes. It’s pretty recent compared to others, and it calls for the offender to have a direct conversation with the victim after meeting them. In the discussion, the offender inquires about how the victim felt during the crime.

They also ask what the victim wants the offender to do to make amends and achieve utmost absolution.

This conversation also applies to the community where the perpetrator is often the crime, and they must contrive to have the victimized forgive them. Various theories exist to support the restoration of peace between the offender and society.

Many punishments exist to adjust with the type of crime, and the community, in this case, often helps to ensure safety for themselves.

Other forms of juvenile punishment start with detention to correctional facilities to the foster system, community service, counseling, etc.

Criminal Offenses in Canada &  Punishments

In Canada, there is a myriad of criminal offenses. In the Criminal Code of Canada, there is a section for murder, assault, sexual crimes against children, kidnapping, theft, robbery, fraud, voyeurism, arson, etc.

The criminal offenses and punishments are mainly distinguishing by assault vs. battery in Canada. Assault carries a threat to cause bodily harm or death, while the battery is the act of using some form of force to injure someone.

The most common punishment in Canada for these crimes is rehabilitation in a correctional facility. To rehabilitate the criminal, counseling is offers to teach them how to live in society better.


No punishment system is truly perfect. It’s up to lawmakers and other political figures to find an appropriate balance between the needs of society and the needs of the criminal. Sometimes, these systems can even contradict one another and be rivalry with one another.

See more: 10 Things to Do at The Scene of An Accident

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