Can I get a suspended prison sentence?
A suspended sentence is a term of imprisonment that is suspended, so that you do not go into custody immediately. You will not go into custody if you comply with the conditions attached.
Who can get a suspended sentence?
In the Magistrates’ Court, any sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment (12 months for two or more either-way offences) or less can be suspended. In the Crown Court, any sentence of 24 months or less can be suspended.
The minimum length of imprisonment for a suspended sentence is 14 days.
It follows, therefore, that if your offending warrants a sentence above the maximum level, or you are sentenced as a dangerous offender, you will not receive a suspended sentence.
This sentence is also not available for youths.
When can a sentence be suspended?
The sentencing court will first consider whether or not a custodial sentence should be imposed. In legal terms, this is whether the “custody threshold” has been passed.
If custody of one of the lengths discussed above is imposed, the Court can then move on to decide whether it can be suspended or not.
In considering whether the sentence can be suspended the Court will look at the particular circumstances of the offence and offender. The Judge will also consider the sentencing guideline that applies to this scenario.
Factors to consider would be whether there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation, strong personal mitigation and the impact of immediate custody on others.
Mitigating against a suspension would be that the offender is a risk or danger to the public, the most appropriate punishment is immediate custody and a poor history of compliance with court orders.
How long can it be suspended for?
From six months up to two years (the ‘operational period’).
What conditions may be imposed?
A sentence is suspended on condition that you do not commit any further offences during the operational period. A straightforward order will only have this condition.
Additionally, you can have a suspended sentence order that is subject to further requirements. These will be similar to those in a community order. This can include unpaid work, a curfew and supervision with the Probation Service. If you are subject to such an order, it is also suspended on condition that you comply with the requirements imposed.
What happens if I breach a suspended sentence order?
You can breach an order by either committing an offence within the operational period or failing to comply with any requirements imposed.
The starting point for breach of an order is to activate the period of imprisonment. The length of imprisonment may be reduced to reflect the level of compliance with the order and any requirements. If it is unjust in the circumstances to activate the sentence the court has various options. You may be fined for the breach, given further or more onerous requirements, or the operational period may be extended.
If you do not comply with the requirements, you will be summonsed to attend court. If you commit a further offence, you will be arrested and charged, or interviewed under caution and summonsed. We can provide advice throughout the proceedings, from the police station, at court and for any breach proceedings.
How can we help?
If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email@example.com.
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written, which may affect the information and advice given therein.