If you were sentenced to a community order, or suspended sentence by the magistrates or crown court, then failure to comply with the requirements can result in you being summoned to court in breach. The same would additionally apply in the case of a suspended sentence order if you had committed a further offence within the ‘operational period’ (length of the order).

This can be especially serious in the case of a breach of suspended sentence order, because the law states the order must be activated unless it would be unjust to do so. The presumption is therefore in favour of the immediate imprisonment. In theory, a community order can also be revoked, and replaced by a suspended sentence order, or immediate imprisonment, if very little has been done to comply.

In both cases, the court is required to mark any breach by imposing a fine, or extending the requirements or operational period. In practice this can mean more unpaid work, a longer curfew (with or without an electronic tag), or additional work with the Probation Service.

We can advise you firstly as to whether a breach has occurred, and if so, what argument can be made to limit the consequences. We are abundantly aware that it can be difficult to comply with requirements for medical reasons, or due to family and work commitments. There can be a simple breakdown in communication with an Offender Manager. In those circumstances there might be scope for us to argue that the breach should not proceed to court. We suggest you obtain any evidence to support absences, which would strongly support such an argument.

More recently, someone who is released from a period of imprisonment of less than 12 months will be required to undertake ‘post-sentence supervision’ with the Probation Service. If that requirement is breached, they may risk being returned to prison for 14 days.

In the Youth Court, a similar situation can arise where a young person has been given a Youth Rehabilitation Order, or Detention and Training Order, and allegedly fallen into breach. We are experts in all proceedings before the youth court, and we know this can be a confusing and emotional time for young people and parents alike. It remains our priority to protect the young person’s interests, and ensure they understand the process throughout.

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