Suspended sentence


Suspended sentence

A suspended sentence is a legal construct. Unless a minimum punishment is prescribed by law, the court has the power to suspend the passing of sentence (generally for a period of three years) and place the offender on probation. It is the passing of the sentence, not the sentence itself, that is being suspended. This means that if the person is convicted of another offense during the period when the passing of sentence had been suspended, then the person may be sentenced for the original offence.

Suspended sentence is necessary for probation, but in cases where the penalty is recorded as suspended sentence it is often given to mitigate the effect of the penalty. It is common practice for judges to hand down a suspended sentence to first-time offenders who have committed a minor crime, and for prosecutors to recommend a suspended sentence as part of a plea bargain.

In Canada, a suspended sentence still results in a criminal record even though it is possible that no time is served or other penalty incurred.

In some states of the USA, such as Pennsylvania, suspended sentences have not been authorized by the legislature and are therefore illegal. Com. v. Hamilton, 488 A.2d 277 (Pa. Super. 1985); 42 Pa CSA s. 9721.

Some jurisdictions allow for suspended sentences to be imposed even for fairly serious crimes. An example is the use of suspended death sentences in China, where an offender receives what might appear to be a relatively lenient sentence, but will automatically be executed if subsequently convicted of any other crime. This is used as a way to offer offenders with no previous criminal record a second chance, but with very serious consequences if they fail to reform.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • suspended sentence — see sentence Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. suspended sentence …   Law dictionary

  • suspended sentence — noun A sentence of imprisonment not served unless the offender commits another crime • • • Main Entry: ↑suspend * * * suspended sentence UK [səˌspendɪd ˈsentəns] US [səˌspendəd ˈsentəns] noun [countable] [singular suspended sentence …   Useful english dictionary

  • suspended sentence — suspended sentences N COUNT If a criminal is given a suspended sentence, they are given a prison sentence which they have to serve if they commit another crime within a specified period of time. John was given a four month suspended sentence …   English dictionary

  • suspended sentence — UK [səˌspendɪd ˈsentəns] / US [səˌspendəd ˈsentəns] noun [countable] Word forms suspended sentence : singular suspended sentence plural suspended sentences legal time that someone will have to spend in prison only if they commit another crime… …   English dictionary

  • suspended sentence — A conviction of a crime followed by a sentence that is given formally, but not actually served. A suspended sentence in criminal law means in effect that defendant is not required at the time sentence is imposed to serve the sentence. Richards v …   Black's law dictionary

  • suspended sentence — sus.pended sentence n a punishment given by a court in which a criminal is told they will be sent to prison if they do anything else illegal within the time mentioned ▪ a two year suspended sentence …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • suspended sentence — noun (C) a punishment given by a court in which the criminal will only go to prison if they do something else illegal within a particular period of time: a two year suspended sentence …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • suspended sentence — See suspension of sentence …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • suspended sentence — sus|pend|ed sen|tence [ sə,spendəd sentəns ] noun count LEGAL time that someone will have to spend in prison only if they commit another crime within a fixed period …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • suspended sentence — on probation …   English contemporary dictionary


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