The Definition of a Suspended Sentence
After being convicted at trial or entering a guilty plea, the judge will read your sentence. Sometimes you are given jail or prison sentences, while other times all (or a portion) of your sentence is suspended and you are placed on probation.
Suspended sentences are an ideal alternative because they reduce your prison and jail time – and lessen the burden on the state.
When the judge suspends all (or a portion) of your sentence, you do not serve that time. However, you may have to serve some incarceration time for partial dismissals, while the remainder is done on probation. Once your probation is over, the court will consider you as having served your time and you are done.
Is a Suspended Sentence an Option for Me?
New Mexico Statutes Section 31-18-15 allows for sentence reduction with the use of a suspended sentence. However, the type of crime you commit will greatly determine the deferred or suspended sentence you can receive. If you want a suspended sentence, you are more likely to receive one by having your attorney negotiate with the prosecution as part of a plea bargain.
Typically, these reductions are only offered for first-time offenders facing a sentence for a non-violent crime. Violent crimes do not receive suspended sentences, but are subjected to mandatory minimums.
How a Suspended Sentence Works – and What You Must Know
If you have get a suspended sentence, your time in prison or jail is deferred upon completion of a probationary period. During this period, you do not serve time in jail, and you can be a productive member of society.
You are also not under house arrest. You can typically go to school, work, and even socialize. However, you must follow all rules given to you just like a standard probationary period. If you fail to do so, you could wind up back in jail to serve out jail the rest of your sentence (if not longer).
Once you complete all conditions of probation, your judge dismisses the charges and sentence, and you are free to go.
You Must Plead Guilty
What most defendants do not realize here is that if they want a suspended sentence, they are required to plead guilty and admit guilt. Therefore, you will have a guilty plea appear on your criminal record. This could affect you for the rest of your life when it comes to applying for jobs or even qualifying for specific forms of public aid.
Under New Mexico law, a judge can give a deferred sentence for any crime if no firearms were used, and you are not facing a first-degree felony, capital charge, or severe violent charge.
Your probation will not be longer than the incarceration period, but you may have a longer probation and jail sentence than you would if you just served time in prison.
You Must Meet with a Probation or Parole Officer
Just like regular probation and parole, you check in with your overseeing officer frequently. You cannot skip these meetings, or you could have your probation revoked. Other conditions of probation could include:
- Repaying restitution to victims
- Attending drug and alcohol treatment programs
- Community service hours
- Attending counseling
- Medical and psychiatric treatments
- Paying spousal and child support
The Offense Still Counts as a First for Subsequent Offenses
Realize that this offense, suspended or not, is your first offense. If you commit another crime, that is a subsequent offense, and you will receive a harsher punishment. For example, you are on suspended sentence for a first-time DUI. However, six months after altering your sentence, you are arrested for a DUI. This is treated as a second offense, and you will receive the enhanced penalties. Furthermore, the judge is more likely to give a harsher sentence without the option of a suspended sentence.
Speak with an NM Criminal Defense Attorney Today
After an arrest, explore your options for sentences, bargains, and more by speaking with a skilled criminal defense attorney in the state of New Mexico. The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices is here to help you through this difficult time.
Schedule a free case evaluation with our attorneys now by calling 505-375-4765 or request more information online.