Judge in office reviewing criminal case at desk

What Is a Suspended Sentence?

Venessa Bornost, P.A.  Oct. 10, 2023

In Florida, a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime may be sentenced to serve a specific amount of time in county jail or state prison. Depending on the surrounding circumstances of your case, the judge may suspend the jail or prison sentence. As an alternative to jail, you may have to serve time on probation once your sentence is suspended.  

No matter what, understanding the conditions and eligibility requirements for a suspended sentence is imperative when making crucial decisions for your case. 

As an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney, I can evaluate your case, enlighten you about the benefits of a suspended sentence, and determine whether or not you’re eligible. My firm, Venessa Bornost, P.A., proudly serves clients across Dunedin, Hillsborough County, and Pasco County, Florida. If you need legal representation, reach out now

What Is a Suspended Sentence?

A suspended sentence occurs when a judge—after sentencing a defendant—allows them to serve all or part of their time on probation or within the community rather than behind bars. In most cases, the judge will place you on supervised or unsupervised probation once your sentence has been suspended. 

A suspended sentence can be partial or complete. In a complete suspended sentence, when all your prison sentences are suspended by the judge, you will not have to spend any time in jail. Conversely, if the suspended sentence is partial, you will serve a portion of your sentence in jail and the remaining part on probation. 

When Is a Suspended Sentence Available? Who Is Eligible?

A suspended sentence is available in several criminal cases. They are not available for offenses that are punishable by the death penalty. The Florida court may issue a suspended sentence to a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, or non-violent crime, provided that the offender doesn’t pose any risk of danger to the community. In most cases, many low-level or first-time offenders usually qualify for suspended sentences in Florida. 

For instance, a defendant was convicted of a first-time petit theft for stealing a property valued at less than $100. In Florida, the offense is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500. Assume the judge imposes a suspended sentence of 60 days and places the defendant on probation with mandatory attendance at a Theft Awareness Class. 

  • If the defendant completes the class and meets other probation conditions, the judge will dismiss the jail sentence. The defendant won’t have to serve time behind bars. 

  • Conversely, if the defendant fails to complete the class or violates other probation conditions, the judge may “un-suspend” the sentence and impose the original jail time of 60 days. 

An experienced attorney can enlighten you about the benefits of a suspended sentence and determine your eligibility. 

Benefits of a Suspended Sentence

Some advantages of having a sentence suspended include: 

  • It is not a compulsory jail sentence. 

  • It helps reduce the risk of recidivism. 

  • It is an effective deterrent and will discourage the defendant from reoffending. 

  • The defendant can attend school or remain employed. 

  • It allows the defendant to avoid incarceration and other social ramifications. 

  • It allows the defendant to learn essential life lessons and helps them prevent future mistakes. 

  • It gives the defendant the opportunity to demonstrate good behavior and contribute positively to their community. 

A dedicated criminal defense attorney can review all of the facts of your case, determine whether you’re eligible for a suspended sentence, or explore your other sentencing alternatives, including probation. 

Probation and Suspended Sentencing

Let’s outline the key difference between probation and suspended sentencing. Probation is a non-prison sentencing option that eliminates or reduces the amount of time a defendant spends in jail or prison.  

A suspended sentence is a court-ordered punishment that gets suspended in order to allow the offender to serve probation or within the community. A suspended sentence will remain on your criminal record, unless it gets expunged after some years. 

Can a Suspended Sentence Get Revoked?

Yes, a suspended sentence can be revoked. This may be referred to as “un-suspending” a suspended sentence. In a suspended sentence, the defendant is often placed on probation. If the offender violates one or more terms of their probation, the judge can “un-suspend” the sentence or revoke the probation and impose the initial sentence which was suspended. 

Let My Experience Guide You

The thought of getting convicted and spending time in custody can be terrifying. Thankfully, you may be able to avoid imprisonment or jail time with a suspended sentence or probation.  

I have devoted my career to protecting clients who are facing criminal charges from the worst possible outcomes. As your lawyer, I can explore your available sentencing alternatives, determine your eligibility for a suspended sentence, and help you achieve the most favorable outcome for your unique circumstances. 

Call me at Venessa Bornost, P.A., today to schedule a simple case assessment with a dependable criminal defense lawyer. I can offer you the personalized legal counsel and reliable representation you need to navigate key decisions in your criminal case. My firm is proud to represent clients across Dunedin, Hillsborough County, and Pasco County, Florida.