What is a deferred sentence?

Deferred Sentences

"SOMETIMES, ALTHOUGH RARELY, A JUDGE MAY BE PREPARED TO DEFER A SENTENCE TO TEST A DEFENDANT’S COMMITMENT TO CHANGE FOR THE BETTER"

Sometimes, although rarely, a judge may be prepared to defer a sentence to test a defendant’s commitment to change for the better.

Often it is said in mitigation that a defendant has changed his ways and made steps towards living a more positive life. This could involve, for example, moving to a new area away from a bad crowd, maintaining employment or making good the harm caused by the offence. A judge may well wish to ensure that there will be action behind these words by putting the sentence off (deferring it) to a future date on condition that the defendant does what he says he will do.

If by the time the case returns to court for sentence the defendant has abided by the conditions imposed by the judge when the case was deferred, then in return a non-custodial sentence will be passed.  If the defendant has not done so or has committed a further offence (i.e. not lived up to his word) then a custodial sentence will almost inevitably be passed. 

A defendant has to agree to a deferral of sentence and a specific date will be given for the case to come back to court before the same judge.