What Is a Suspended Sentence in Drug Crime Law?

Guilty pleas are common outcomes in drug crime cases. One reason for this is that a guilty plea might open up the possibility of a suspended sentence with acceptance of a diversion program. Let's look at what this potential option entails and why a drug crime attorney may tell a client to consider it.

Suspended Sentence

When a judge suspends a sentence, it means the court does not send you to jail at that time. However, the defendant needs to follow through on a set of programs intended to get them on the right track in life. Unsurprisingly, these programs usually entail drug and alcohol counseling. They may also include working on abuse, or financial, emotional, or anger management issues if a court-appointed counselor deems it necessary.

Note that the court reserves the right to throw you in jail for non-compliance. If someone doesn't repeatedly attend their appointed sessions without a reasonable excuse, the judge can then bring the full sentence down on them. There's a guilty plea already on the record, so the judge is holding all of the cards.

Who Gets What?

The idea behind suspending a sentence is three-fold. First, the state gets a guilty plea on the book. That saves the government time and money. Ideally, the defendant completes the program and the state never has to jail them, and that's a huge financial win for the government.

Second, the defendant has the chance to avoid jail and try to turn things around. They have to work with counselors and follow the program, but these things are focused on making progress rather than punishing the defendant. If you feel you have a serious drug problem, this is your chance to get a diagnosis and seek help.

Finally, the suspended sentence includes one big incentive. Upon successful completion of the program, the counselor will send a recommendation to the court. If everything went according to plan, your drug crime lawyer can ask the judge to strike the case from the record.

Who Qualifies?

The ideal defendant is someone who doesn't have a criminal record and hasn't committed any violent acts. If you do have a criminal record, the court will at least want to know you haven't committed any violent crimes recently or are in connection with the drug crime allegations.

Be aware the court doesn't have to offer a suspended sentence or diversion. Usually, the state will introduce the suggestion to the judge after the prosecutor and drug crime attorney have discussed a plea deal. The judge will then decide if it's an idea that benefits both the defendant and the public. For more information, contact a drug crime attorney, such as Giancola-Durkin, P.A., to learn more.