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Criminal defense: what is a suspended sentence?

If you have been convicted of a crime, the penalty could be a term in prison, a monetary fine or both. However, there are other possibilities, such as community service and other alternatives. For example, those convicted of drug offenses can sometimes enter a drug diversion program instead of serving time in jail. In some criminal cases it's possible for the defendant to receive a suspended sentence.

A suspended sentence is an option that a judge can invoke in some criminal cases. Basically, the judge decides to postpone a jail sentence that the person convicted of a crime is facing. The judge may do this because he or she believes that the individual may be able to turn their life around without having to go to prison. Suspended sentences are mostly invoked for those individuals who are convicted of less severe crimes or who have been convicted for the first time.

A suspended sentence can either be unconditional or conditional. An unconditional suspended sentence means that there are no circumstances attached to the ruling that they individual must satisfy. However, a conditional suspended sentence means that the judge has attached certain terms to the defendant's suspended sentence that must be followed exactly. These conditions can include not being convicted of any further crimes. If that person fails to honor the conditions set by the judge, then the judge can revoke their suspended sentence and that person could be sent to prison.

A suspended sentence can be enforced either before it is imposed or even before the sentence goes into effect. Maryland residents who are facing criminal charges may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney in order to find out about situations when a judge can impose a suspended sentence.

Source: FindLaw, "Suspended Sentences", Accessed Oct. 15, 2016

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