A suspended sentence is considered a term of imprisonment that is served within the community. It must be made with conviction.
Suspended sentences are no longer available in Victoria unless the offending occurred prior to 1 September 2014. Any offense committed after this date cannot attract a suspended term of imprisonment.
The Old Legislation:
s. 27 Suspended sentence of imprisonment
1. On sentencing an offender to a term of imprisonment the Magistrates’ Court may make an order suspending, for a period specified by the court, the whole or a part of the sentence if it is satisfied that it is desirable to do so in the circumstances.
An offender who is sentenced to a suspended sentence receives a term of imprisonment which is suspended for a certain period of time. e.g. An offender may receive a three month term of imprisonment, wholly suspended for 12 months.
If the offender is found guilty of an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment within the timeframe of the suspended sentence, the offender must serve the term of imprisonment unless they can show exceptional circumstances why imprisonment is not justified.
‘Exceptional circumstances’ must be something ‘new, unexpected or beyond contemplation’. It may be one circumstance or a combination of circumstances that amounts to exceptional.
An offender may also be sentenced with up to three months imprisonment for a breach of a suspended sentence. This is in addition to the original term of imprisonment and the sentence for new offending.
s. 83AB Contravention of suspended sentence
1. If an offender who is subject to a suspended sentence order is convicted or found guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment, being an offence committed during the period of the order, the offender is guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty not exceeding 3 months imprisonment.
An offender on a suspended sentence will not breach their suspended sentence if they receive a parking fine or traffic infringement during the operational period.
The maximum suspended sentence that can be ordered in a Magistrates’ Court is two years. A breach of suspended sentence cannot be listed two years after the expiration of the operational period.
As indicated at the beginning of this article, as of September of 2014 suspended sentences were phased out and are no longer available in the Magistrates’ Court or any other Court in Victoria.