What is a Suspended Sentence?

What is a Suspended Sentence?

There are two types of probation offered in exchange for a plea of guilty: a deferred sentence and a suspended sentence. While the requirements are the same for both types of probation, there are distinct differences regarding the legal implications. It is important that you understand these distinctions before you enter into a plea deal. Here are the important elements of a suspended sentence:

Length of Time

A suspended sentence is intended to be a term of jail time that the court “pauses” and it cannot exceed the maximum sentence prescribed in the State’s statute. For example, any suspended sentence you’re offered as part of a misdemeanor DUI plea will not exceed the 1-year maximum punishment stipulated by the Oklahoma DUI statute. (This is different from a deferred sentence, which can exceed the length of time prescribed in the statute.)

Expungement

Unlike a deferred sentence, a suspended sentence does NOT come with an automatic expungement. If you want to expunge a case you received a suspended sentence for, you must apply for a section 18 expungement. This is a full expungement, but it has more requirements and takes much longer to obtain.

If you received a suspended sentence on a misdemeanor, you can still get an expungement if:

  • 5 years have passed since the completion of your suspended sentence.
  • You have no prior felony convictions.
  • You have no pending misdemeanor or felony convictions.
  • You have paid all your court costs.

If you received a suspended sentence on a felony, you can still get an expungement if:

  • The felony is non-violent
  • The felony does not require you to be added to the sex offender registry.
  • 5 years have passed since the completion of your probation.
  • 7 years have passed since you were charged with any misdemeanors.
  • You have no prior felony convictions.
  • You have no pending misdemeanor or felony convictions.
  • You have paid all your court costs.

These are the requirements for a full expungement. You are able to get a full expungement regardless of whether you received a deferred or suspended sentence, but you can only receive a partial expungement if you had a deferred sentence. This expungement difference is the main reason people choose to take a longer deferred sentence over a shorter suspended sentence.

No Statutory Limit

Unlike with a deferred sentence, there is no statutory limit to the number of suspended sentences you can receive. There also isn’t an exact science as to which cases will warrant a suspended sentence versus jail time. The punishment depends on your prior criminal activity and the severity of your case, as well as your county and prosecutor.

The Bottom Line

A suspended sentence is a form of probation that can be offered on any case you are charged with. You typically receive a suspended sentence as part of a plea deal. The suspended sentence cannot exceed the statutory maximum of the crime, and your probation requirements will not be different from those of a deferred sentence. If you are charged with a crime and believe you may be able to receive a suspended sentence, give us a call for a free consultation.