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What is Suspension of Sentence

Suspension of Sentence is a statutory remedy available under Section 389 of the Criminal Procedure Code that allows a court authority to suspend an accused's sentence while the appeal is being considered and not finally decided. The Hon'ble Apex Court and different High Courts have established broader boundaries and jurisprudence, and the courts would use judicial discretion within this range of greater parameters and principles.

In simpler terms, Section 389 states that a sentence suspension may be granted while an appeal is underway, and the accused may be released on bail:

  1. While an appeal is pending, the appellate court can suspend an accused's sentence, and the reasons for the suspension must be stated in writing. It can also order the accused's release if he is held in detention on bail and files his own personal bail bond.
  2. In the context of an appeal, the High Court can exercise the authority conferred on an Appellate Court by this section.
  3. If a convict informs the Court that he intends to appeal the judgment in which he was found guilty, the Court shall:
    1. While on bail, if the person is sentenced to less than three years in jail, or
    2. If a convict's sentence is suspended while he is on bail for a bailable offence, his sentence is presumed to be suspended unless there are extraordinary reasons for refusing bail.
  4. If the appellant is ultimately sentenced to a period of imprisonment or life in prison, the time he is released will be deducted from the sentence.

When & Why to seek the Suspension of Sentence?

After a conviction, if the appeal isn't decided by the appellate court, the accused might file a sentence suspension. Section 389 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for the suspension of a sentence while an appeal is pending. The legislature, in its wisdom, devised this clause by reasoning that if the appeal is expected to take a long time to complete, it would be unjust to keep the accused in detention for that length of time, since this would render the accused's appeal meaningless.

Where & Who Can Apply the Suspension of Sentence?

An appellate court, such as the Court of Sessions, the High Court, or the Hon'ble Supreme Court, can grant Suspension of Sentence under the mandate of Section 389, CrPC. Any accused person may file an application as long as the Appellate Court does not decide on the appeal.

Can Suspension of Sentence be Conditional or Unconditional?

Suspension of Sentence in a judicial order can be conditional or unconditional and it is usually given in the order. When the courts believe that the relief granted will be misused by the accused or for any other reason relating to public order, peace, and tranquility, they impose restrictions. The judicial order's prerequisite requirements usually serve a variety of functions in support of this provision; for example, an accused's regular attendance at a police station will limit his presence to the jurisdiction/city specified in the judicial order.

The term "unconditional suspension of sentence" refers to a sentence that is simply suspended without any restrictions attached. The courts issue such orders when there are no discernible threats of any kind.

Does a Suspension of Sentence Mean a Criminal Record is Left Behind?

Yes, an accused's criminal record will be displayed even if the sentence is suspended. For all intents and purposes, the suspension of sentence functions similarly to a bail provision following conviction and is unaffected by the criminal record. Whenever there is a chance, the accused might seek for the quashing of the FIR or criminal proceedings to clear their criminal records.

Bail and Suspension of Sentence:

The phrases 'bail' and 'suspension of the sentence' are not interchangeable in criminal law jurisprudence. The accused who requests bail is considered an undertrial and is subject to Section 437 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for Regular Bail, Section 438 for Anticipatory Bail, or Section 439 of the CrPC for Special Powers of Sessions Court and High Court.

The accused who seeks Suspension of Sentence is a convicted person who is subject to Section 389 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The convict's appeal against his trial court conviction must be pending, and the appellate court is required by statute to record arguments for sentence suspension in writing. The fact that the accused was granted bail during the trial and he did not commit any offence while on bail is of minor importance.

Probation and Suspension of Sentence:

The accused who have had their sentence suspended must adhere to the terms of their probation or face the possibility of going to prison. The judge determines the length of probation based on state laws/amendments and the nature of the criminal charges; probation normally lasts one to five years. The seriousness of the criminal accusations brought against the accused may also influence the length of probation.

The following are examples of the conditions and duration of probation imposed on the accused:
  • Providing the probation officer with a report;
  • Participating in community service;
  • Counseling for drug and alcohol abuse;
  • Drug testing at random intervals;
  • A requirement for looking for and starting a job;
  • Fines and restitution;
  • Living at a specific address or in a specific location;
  • Regular payment of probation fees, court costs, penalties, or restitution;
  • In the future, not commit any crimes.

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