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What You Need to Know About a Suspended Sentence

suspended sentence

A suspended sentence is a legal term that can be confusing for many people. It’s a type of sentence often used in criminal cases, but the specifics of what it entails can vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Understanding what a suspended sentence is, how it works, and the consequences is essential for anyone facing criminal charges or who may be affected by the criminal justice system. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of suspended sentences, including what they are and how they work, and we’ll answer some common questions about suspended sentences in Maryland.

Suspended Sentences and How They Work

A suspended sentence is a legal term used to describe a sentence that is imposed by a court but does not have to be served immediately. Instead, the sentence is “suspended,” and the defendant is placed on probation, typically for a set period of time, during which they must meet certain conditions set by the court.

The conditions of probation will vary based on the specific case and the judge’s discretion. Still, typical probation requirements include regular check-ins with a probation officer, drug testing, community service, and/or participation in counseling or treatment programs. The defendant may also be required to pay fines, restitution, or other costs associated with their crime.

When the conditions of their probation are successfully completed, the suspended sentence is typically dismissed, and they are not required to serve any time in jail. However, if the conditions of the probation are violated, the judge may revoke the suspended sentence, and the defendant may be required to serve the original sentence.

Maryland Law on Suspended Sentences

In Maryland, suspended sentences are governed by state law and are handed down by judges in criminal cases. A judge can impose a suspended sentence where a person has been convicted of a crime, including misdemeanors and felonies. Below are answers to common questions about a suspended sentence in Maryland.

Is a Suspended Sentence Common in Maryland?

Suspended sentences are common in Maryland courts for criminal cases. The sentencing options available include probation, community service, and home detention. When imposing a suspended sentence, the judge allows the defendant to be rehabilitated while being held accountable for their actions.

Judges may impose a suspended sentence if they believe it’s in the best interest of justice to do so. This typically involves considering several factors, including the severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and their likelihood of reoffending. If the judge determines that a suspended sentence is appropriate, they will typically set a probation period during which the defendant must comply with certain conditions.

How Much Jail Time Can Be Suspended in Maryland?

The judge can’t suspend more than the maximum penalty they can impose for the crime you’ve been sentenced for. For example, first-degree assault carries a penalty of up to twenty-five years in jail, meaning that a judge can suspend up to twenty-five years of jail time. It would be an illegal sentence if the judge exceeded the maximum penalty as a suspended sentence.

How Long is Probation for a Suspended Sentence in Maryland?

The circumstances of your case will determine the length of a suspended sentence in Maryland. Sometimes your suspended sentence could last for years, and other times it could be shorter.

The judge will determine the length of time for your suspended sentence, and it must be a reasonable amount of time based on the circumstances. For example, in District court cases, there is a three-year cap for probations. And circuit court cases have a five-year cap.

What Happens if Probation is Violated During a Suspended Sentence in Maryland?

As mentioned above, if a defendant violates the conditions of a suspended sentence, they may be required to serve the original sentence. Often, there will be additional penalties and fines for probation violation.

The judge can determine the appropriate penalty for a probation violation. Penalties could include revocation of the suspended sentence, modification of the conditions of probation, or other penalties as deemed appropriate.

Can the Terms of a Suspended Sentence Be Changed in Maryland?

Sometimes you can appeal a suspended sentence if you feel like the sentence is excessive or if the conditions are too severe. You typically have 90 days after receiving the sentence to modify your sentence. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights and how to appeal or modify a suspended sentence.

Let Jeremy Widder Law Help You Understand Your Suspended Sentence

It’s essential to understand the implications of a suspended sentence and to work closely with a criminal defense attorney to ensure that the conditions of probation are reasonable and achievable. If you’re looking for an experienced criminal defense attorney who will listen and advocate for you, Jeremy Widder Law can help.

We know that being charged with a crime can be scary. You need someone on your side who will fight for your rights and provide you with a defense strategy with the best chance to lead to your preferred outcome. Our team will be next to you every step of the way, guiding you through the legal system and protecting your rights and future.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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