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Probation and sentence management

What is the lawyer’s role in probation and in sentence adjustment procedure?

Drawing up a sentence adjustment plan – which is a broader concept than his American counterpart, the probation -is a difficult stage for prisoners and their families, who are faced with a complex and often discouraging procedure.

BRAUN Avocats assists prisoners and their families throughout the sentence adjustment process:

  • A complete diagnosis of the case, enabling us to target the prisoner’s expectations as effectively as possible, and to find a sentence adjustment suited to his or her situation.
  • Establishing key dates in the sentence management process and calculating sentence reductions.
  • Preparing your file so that you can gather all the elements needed to maximize your chances of success.
  • Coaching before the hearing to better understand how it will unfold and what the judge may expect.
  • All useful appeals for sentence adjustment, whether before the Juge de l’application des peines (JAP) or the Tribunal de l’application des peines (TAP), to enable you to benefit from a one-off or long-term sentence adjustment. 

BRAUN Avocats offers a wealth of expertise in the field of sentence enforcement, thanks to the experience of Maître Alexandre-M. BRAUN (former secretary of the conference) and, more specifically, the expertise of his associate, Maître Vincent SCUDERONI (Association des avocats pour la défense des personnes détenues; former legal advisor to the Contrôleur Général des Lieux de Privation de Liberté; …).

Do sentence adjustment measures only concern prisoners?

No, it is entirely possible for the criminal court to impose a sentence adjustment “ab initio”, i.e. as soon as the court hands down the sentence. 

The principle is as follows:

  • For sentences of 6 months or less : The judge must decide on a sentence adjustment, except in exceptional cases (due to the personality or situation of the convicted person).
  • For sentences of between 6 and 12 months: The judge may decide to adjust the sentence (if the offender’s personality and circumstances allow).

Consequently, choosing a law firm with expertise in sentence adjustment law is useful right from the time of the court hearing.

How to increase the chances of success of a sentence adjustment request?

A number of factors are taken into account by the judge when deciding on sentence adjustment. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the main factors taken into account by judges: 

Good behavior:

– The absence of incidents in detention,
– Compliance with internal regulations or service instructions,
– Involvement in daily life,
– Good behavior with staff, other inmates and visitors.

Rehabilitation efforts undertaken in detention : 

– Compensation for victims through regular voluntary payments,
– Successful completion of a school, university or professional exam,
– Investment in literacy and numeracy,
– Participation in cultural activities, especially reading,
– Regular therapy to limit recurrence,
– Involvement in a work activity,

Developing an out-of-home reintegration project:

  • Proof of outdoor accommodation
  • Prove that you have been offered a job outside the company, or have taken steps to find a job.
  • Proof of medical treatment as part of an outpatient program.
  • Justify the need to return to the family or marital home.

What are the main sentence adjustments?

There are 5 main sentence adjustments that can be applied for: 

    1. Compulsory release: This is a systematized measure for people sentenced to 5 years or less, or to less than 5 years, when 2/3 of the sentence has been served. Compulsory release avoids having to leave the prison in a hurry. The judge’s refusal of this type of sentence must be exceptional and justified.
    2. Conditional release: This consists of releasing a prisoner when he or she has served at least half of his or her sentence (after deduction of remissions), with the aim of reintegration and prevention of recidivism.
      There are special conditional releases which are more easily accessible:

      • For convicts aged over 70: can be requested at any time, provided that the person’s integration into society is assured.
      • For persons exercising parental authority over a child under 10: May be requested at any time if the remaining sentence is less than 4 years and the child’s main residence is with the detained parent. 
    3. Electronically monitored home detention: This is a system set up at the convicted person’s home, where he or she wears an electronic bracelet. As this is a static electronic surveillance system, the bracelet only indicates the times at which the person leaves and returns home.
    4. Work release: Work release enables convicts to be employed outside a penal establishment. Work can be carried out on behalf of an administration, a public authority or a legal entity (particularly associations). Remuneration is based on that of free workers.


Is it possible to arrange short-term sentences?

It is quite possible to benefit from a shorter sentence, under the terms of a temporary or escorted release.

Temporary absences: These are authorizations given to a convicted offender to leave a prison establishment for a specified period. Their purpose is to enable the convicted person to begin or continue his or her professional or social reintegration, to maintain family ties or to fulfill an obligation requiring his or her presence.

Escorted exit permits: These are issued only in exceptional cases, for compelling medical reasons, to visit a dying relative, or to visit the grave of a deceased relative.


Is it possible to temporarily suspend a prison sentence?

Sentence splitting and ordinary suspension allow convicts to serve their sentences in several alternating sequences of stays outside and stays in detention. Both systems can be used for medical, family, professional or social reasons requiring the offender’s presence on the outside.

Sentence splitting: The purpose of sentence splitting is to reduce the impact of the sentence by allowing the offender to serve it in fractions rather than all at once. It can be scheduled over defined periods.

Suspension of sentence: This differs from fractioning in that the end of the suspension is not determined in advance; it depends on the evolution of the person’s situation, and therefore cannot be planned. It also exists in a special form, the medical suspension of sentence, due to the particularly worrying state of health of the detainee.

Caution: Unlike long-term sentence adjustments, these procedures have the effect of pausing the flow of the hourglass, so that periods of suspension are not deducted from the sentence still to be served.

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Alexandre-M. BRAUN receives clients at his law firm, by appointment only. He can be reached, preferably, through the form.