||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (September 2008)|
|Criminal trials and convictions|
|Rights of the accused|
|Related areas of law|
A suspended sentence is a legal term for a judge's delaying of a defendant's serving of a sentence after they have been found guilty, in order to allow the defendant to perform a period of probation. If the defendant does not break the law during that period, and fulfills the particular conditions of the probation, the judge usually throws out the sentence.1
In Australia, suspended sentences are commonly imposed in order to alleviate the strain on overcrowded prisons. For example, an individual may be sentenced to a six-month jail term, wholly suspended for six months; if they commit any other offence during that year, the original jail term is immediately applied in addition to any other sentence.
The period for which the sentence is suspended cannot exceed the term of the original sentence.
Suspended sentences (執行猶予 shikkō yūyo ) are common practice in Japan and can be applied in cases where a sentence is for up to 3 years in prison and/or 500,000 yen in fines. Any criminal activity during the period of the suspended sentence will result in the cancellation of the sentence and imprisonment for the prescribed term.2
In the United States, it is common practice for judges to hand down suspended sentences to first-time offenders who have committed a minor crime, and for prosecutors to recommend suspended sentences as part of a plea bargain. They are often given to mitigate the effect of penalties.3
In some jurisdictions, the criminal record of the guilty party will still carry the offence, even after probation is adequately served.4 In other cases, the process of deferred adjudication prevents the conviction from appearing on a person's criminal record, once probation had been completed.
In the federal system, judges' authority to suspend sentences has been abolished, by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, through the United States Sentencing Commission, and upheld by Mistretta v. United States.
In the People's Republic of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), both suspended sentences and suspended sentencing (Chinese: 缓刑, also translated as a sentence "with reprieve") are featured in the criminal law. In the first situation, a fixed term sentence of three years or below can be suspended. In the second situation, sentencing does not immediately follow the guilty verdict, but instead is determined after a period of probation.
Death sentences can also be suspended (called a "death sentence with reprieve"), so that an offender who does not intentionally re-offend during the two-year suspension period would have the sentence commuted to a life sentence.
- "Legal Terms in Plain English". AthenLaw.com. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
- "裁判手続 刑事事件Q&A 執行猶予が付いているとどうなるのですか". Supreme Court of Japan. 2005. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
- "Suspended Sentence Law & Legal Definition". Legal Terms, Definitions, and Dictionary. USLegal.com. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
- "Definitions: Understanding Legal Words". Manitoba Courts. 23 October 2006. Retrieved 23 January 2011.