How long will I serve?

Written 30th January 2023 by Martha Odysseos

If you are convicted of a criminal offence and receive an immediate custodial sentence, you may be given a ‘Standard Determinate Sentence’ (SDS). This is a standard sentence where the court sets a fixed length for the prison sentence.

SDS – Sentence of less than 2 years

If you receive a SDS of less than two years, you will be released from custody at the halfway point and will then be on licence for the remainder of the sentence. For example, if you receive a Standard Determinate Sentence of 18 months, you will serve 9 months in custody before being released.

SDS – Sentence of 2 years or more

If you are sentenced to a SDS of 2 years or more you would normally serve half of your sentence in custody and serve the rest of the sentence in the community on licence. However, there are certain sentences which require you to serve two-thirds of your sentence prior to being released.

When does the 2/3 release point apply?

SDS- Sentence between 4 and 7 years

The two -thirds release point will apply if you receive a SDS of between 4 and 7 years for a serious sexual offence or certain types of violent offences for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. This will only apply in cases where the Judge has not imposed a Life Sentence nor has classed you as dangerous. Offences include:

SDS – Sentence of 7 years or more

If you receive a SDS of 7 years or more and the offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment – you will serve two -thirds of that sentence in custody before being released. This applies to any offence which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Offences include:

Sentence for Offenders of Particular Concern

If you are over 18, have been convicted of specific terrorism offences or sexual offences against children and the judge has not imposed a sentence of life imprisonment or an extended sentence, the sentence you receive will be a special custodial sentence for offenders of particular concern. The earliest point you will be released is at two-thirds of your sentence. This is not an automatic release and will be a matter for the Parole Board. The Parole Board may refuse your release and you would therefore stay in custody until the end of your sentence. Offences include:
  • Rape of a child under 13
  • Sexual assault of a child under 13

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