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Criminal Defense

What is a deferred or suspended sentence?

By February 2, 2018April 2nd, 2024No Comments

If you or someone you know is accused of a crime and going through the judicial process, you might have heard the terms deferred sentence or suspended sentence. But what do those mean? Are they the same thing?

Both play an important role in the outcome of criminal charges, but they are not exactly the same thing.

What is a deferred sentence?

A deferred sentence is pretty much what it sound like:

  • It means that the court — most likely a judge — will give you a chance to finish a probationary period before the judge hands down your punishment.
  • If the defendant is successful in completing the probation, the court will review the file at the end of the probation and will most likely dismiss the charges against the defendant.
  • If the defendant does not abide by every single term of the probation as outlined by the court, then the judge can instate your conviction and then hand down your punishment.
  • The big takeaway from a deferred sentence is that if you complete all the things outlined by the court, then you will likely not be convicted of a crime and there may or may not be a record of the crime on file. It just depends on the jurisdiction.

What is a suspended sentence?

A suspended sentence is similar to a deferred sentence because it gives the defendant a chance to serve probation instead of going to prison. But the terms are not interchangeable:

Here are some key differences:

  • A suspended sentence comes after you have been convicted of a crime, not before, like a deferred sentence. The “suspended sentence” is given for a crime that you were convicted of committing.
  • A judge can decide to suspend some or all of your sentence. For example, if you were sentenced to seven years in prison, but the judge suspends five years of it, then you will still have to serve two years in prison. Other times, a judge could decide to suspend the entire seven-year sentence, which means that the person would not serve any jail time unless he or she does not stay out of trouble during the probationary period.
  • If you violate your probation under a suspended sentence, then the prosecutor can try to have your suspended sentence revoked, at which time you could be forced to serve the remainder of your sentence.


If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Jacqui Ford’s office today.