If someone gets a custodial sentence of one year suspended for two years they have to stay out of trouble for the time the sentence is suspended (two years) plus the length of the sentence (one year). If they get in any trouble with the police in that time (the three years) they will be sent to prison to serve the full sentence.
Basically means they're on probation for however long the sentence is. If they break the conditions of their suspended sentence OR get caught breaking the law again in any way, they have to do the full original sentence plus the sentence of the new crime. Altho sometimes they can do both concurrently which is a cop out
Even if a crime is committed during the suspended time, the original sentence ie prison time, is not necessarily activated. It depends on whether it's the same sort of crime, how long into the suspended period the subsequent crime is committed etc. Obviously also depends on personal circumstances and the judge / magistrates on the day. Having said that - best to stay out of trouble!
Some of the information on this thread is not entirely accurate.
When a sentence is suspended the judge will state both the sentence and the period for which it is suspended. The period for which the sentence is suspended will be at least as long as the sentence itself. The judge will set a number of conditions with which the offender must comply such as doing unpaid work, undertaking treatment for addiction, obeying a curfew and so on. If the offender fails to comply with these conditions or reoffends the sentence will normally be activated in full or in part and they will be sent to jail. In some circumstances the court may decide not to activate the sentence, in which case the offender will be fined, or any community requirements may be made more onerous and/or the operational period (i.e. the time for which the sentence is suspended) may be extended. However, if the offender complies with the conditions and does not reoffend they will not serve any time in jail.
Note that WeAreEternal is wrong. In her example of a one year sentence suspended for two years, the offender has to stay out of trouble for two years, not three. All that matters is the period for which the sentence is suspended. The original sentence doesn't come into it.
Seems like a lot of suspended sentences are getting handed down lately
I don't think it is any more than normal. Around 5% of sentences are suspended. The press like to find cases where they can whip up some confected outrage at a supposedly lenient sentence, particularly if they can hint that the defendant got off lightly because they were rich, or attractive, or because of their ethnicity or whatever. In the vast majority of such cases the decision to suspend is a perfectly normal one and has nothing to do with the defendants gender, wealth, etc.
I'm a magistrate and we do give suspended custodial sentences without any conditions apart from to stay out of the trouble. The conditions mentioned by a pp are linked to community orders. The reason for giving a suspended sentence is because the crime has crossed the custody threshold but perhaps the defendant has been of previous good character and we believe that the threat of having a prison sentence hanging over them will be enough. Often it is but not always.