Suspended Sentence Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Suspended Sentence, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Suspended Sentence?

An unapplied or unenforced verdict of a court on any person convicted of crime. It can be due to the convicts’ good behaviour, or impact of other pronouncements by criminal court for the same person, or it could be conditional towards some bond or penalty which the convict fulfills while keeping out of trouble. Usually, it is also a probation period of the culprit where they are also sometimes kept under vigil while he lives his normal life.The suspension of implementation of sentences are conditional or unconditional depending on the hearing and understanding of the court considering the surrounding aspects.

History and Meaning of Suspended Sentence

A suspended sentence is a legal term that defines a sentence that has been given by a court to a convicted person, but not enforced as long as the person abides by certain conditions. This decision is usually made by the judge after taking into account the criminal history of the person, the severity of the crime committed, the level of remorse displayed by the person, and other factors.

The history of suspended sentences can be traced back to the middle ages in Europe when it was used as a form of probation. In the United States, while suspended sentences were used in the early 20th century, there wasn't a clear consensus on their legality until 1930 when the Supreme Court established that they were within the bounds of the law.

Examples of Suspended Sentence

  1. John was sentenced to a year of probation with a suspended sentence of six months in jail if he were to violate his probation.
  2. The judge suspended the sentence of a young first-time offender, who was caught stealing candy, on the condition that he must perform community service and attend counseling.
  3. The defendant was given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a DUI. He was ordered to attend AA meetings and not to drive for six months.
  4. The judge handed down a suspended sentence to the convict, who had already spent two years in jail, on condition that he obtains gainful employment within six months or completes a vocational training course.
  5. Mary was sentenced to ten years in prison with five years of probation and a suspended sentence. This meant that if she violated her probation, she would have to serve the remaining five years in jail.

Legal Terms Similar to Suspended Sentence

  1. Probation - Probation and suspended sentences often go hand in hand, as a convicted person may be given probation or be required to submit to certain conditions in exchange for a suspended sentence.
  2. Parole - Parole refers to the conditional release of a convicted person, who has already served part of their sentence, on the condition that they abide by certain rules and regulations.
  3. Community service - In some cases, a convicted person may be required to complete a certain number of hours of community service in order to receive a suspended sentence.