Can I get a suspended sentence?
A suspended sentence is a term of imprisonment that is suspended so that you do not go into custody immediately. Further, you will not go into custody if you comply with the conditions attached to the order.
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 is deserving of a sentence above the maximum level, or you are sentenced as a dangerous offender, you will not be able to receive a suspended sentence.
A suspended sentence is also not available for youths.
When can a sentence be suspended?
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 and consider a sentencing guideline that applies to this scenario.
Factors to consider would be:
- whether there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation
- strong personal mitigation
- 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
- a poor history of compliance with court orders.
How long can it be suspended for?
The sentence of imprisonment can be suspended for a period from six months up to two years. This is called 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. In some circumstances an order may have that single condition.
Additionally, you can have a suspended sentence order that is subject to further requirements similar to this in a community order. This can include
- unpaid work
- a curfew
- 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 the order?
You can breach an order by either committing an offence within the operational period or failing to comply with any requirements that are imposed.
The starting point that will be adopted by the court if you are in 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 of the requirements.
If it is unjust in the circumstances to activate the sentence then the court has other options. You may be
- fined for the breach,
- made subject to further or more onerous requirements
- the operational period may be extended.
How can we help?
As well as advising you whether you might be able to receive a suspended sentence, we will also be able to help you put yourself in the best position for the court to treat you leniently.
This process can start as early as advice prior to a police interview under caution. As a result, if you are arrested or know that the police wish to speak to you about any offence then make sure you insist on your right to free and independent legal advice and ask for VHS Fletchers.
If you have already been interviewed or face court proceedings we can still make a real difference to the outcome of your case. Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.
Some examples of cases where we have helped secure a suspended sentence for our clients can be found here:
Alternatively you can use the contact form below: