Suspended Prison Sentence

suspended prison sentence

Suspended Prison Sentence

A suspended prison sentence is a term of imprisonment imposed by the court but postponed (or ‘suspended’) for a specific period. The court may choose to suspend the prison sentence to give the defendant a chance to undergo probation, receive addiction treatment, or meet specific conditions in the community. However, if the defendant breaches the terms of the suspended sentence or commits another offense during the operational period, they are likely to serve the original prison term.

A suspended prison sentence can be imposed when the “custody threshold test” has been met, meaning the offense is punishable by imprisonment. The court can suspend a prison sentence ranging from 14 days to two years (or six months in Magistrates’ Court) for up to two years. If consecutive sentences are given for multiple offenses, the power to suspend can only be exercised if the total term does not exceed two years (or six months in Magistrates’ Court).

Suspended Prison Sentence

During the suspension period, the defendant must comply with specific requirements imposed by the court. These requirements may include unpaid work, activity participation, program attendance, curfew, exclusion from certain activities or areas, residence restrictions, mental health or drug rehabilitation programs, alcohol treatment, supervision, or attendance at a specified center (for offenders aged 25 or under).

Breaching a suspended prison sentence can lead to activation of the custodial term. There is a presumption that the suspended prison term will be activated if the terms are breached, unless it is considered unjust. Alternatively, the court can make community requirements more onerous, extend the supervision or operational period, or extend the suspension period (up to two years from the original order date).

suspended prison sentence

Suspended Prison Sentence

suspended prison sentence

Suspended prison sentence Summary

A suspended prison sentence is determined by the courts. If you need to contact them regarding a suspended sentence, reach out to the relevant court.

Involvement of Guilt:

Yes, a suspended prison sentence is only given after a guilty verdict is delivered.

Recording on the Police National Computer (PNC):

A suspended prison sentence is recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC).

Classification as a Conviction:

Yes, a suspended prison sentence is classified as a conviction.

Duration on Record:

The suspended prison sentence remains on the PNC indefinitely and will be used in any future criminal proceedings. If you breach any of the conditions or commit another crime, you will likely have to serve the sentence in prison.

Spent Status:

The rehabilitation period for a suspended prison sentence is based on the length of the original prison sentence, not the period it was suspended for. Here are the spent status durations for those over 18:

  • Over 4 years or a public protection sentence: Never spent
  • More than 30 months and less than (or equal to) 4 years: Sentence + 7 years
  • More than 6 months and less than (or equal to) 30 months: Sentence + 4 years
  • Less than (or equal to) 6 months: Sentence + 2 years

Declaration Requirements:

Before a suspended sentence becomes spent, you must declare it when asked by employers and financial institutions. Once it becomes spent, you are not obligated to disclose it unless it is for an occupation that is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, such as working with children.

Disclosure on DBS Checks:

The basic disclosure will show only unspent convictions. However, standard and enhanced disclosures will disclose a custodial sentence, even after it becomes spent.

Fair Process Guidance:

For information on fair process guidance related to sentencing, you can refer to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) guidelines available.

Implications for Life in the Community:

A suspended sentence often comes with specific requirements, such as avoiding certain people or places and engaging in unpaid ‘community payback’ work, similar to a community sentence. During the supervision period, you must adhere to these conditions, and any commission of an offense during the operational period (the suspension period) may result in serving the sentence in prison.