What's the right term in English for the punishment given by the court to the first-time criminal, in which instead of serving some time in prison he/she is allowed to be free during that time, but under some restrictions (like he will be under special surveillance by the government, or he won't be allowed to leave his town, or he would have to report to some governmental institution twice a month or so, etc.) In my first language they use such terms like "conditional sentence" and "probationary period", but, as far as I can see in Wikipedia, the former in English is about grammar, and the latter is about employment.

If possible, I would also like a term for the same kind of decision of the court for a person that is being under investigation, that is, his guilt is not proven yet, but there is a growing amount of evidence indicating that he has committed the crime.

  • There's lots of useful information here, including info on ancillary orders, which you are asking about: sentencingcouncil.org.uk/sentencing-and-the-council/… Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 0:46
  • @RonaldSole - I am surprised that neither "probation", nor "bail" is mentioned in the source that you have cited. Do you have any idea why?
    – brilliant
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 2:03
  • 1
    I suspect that bail may have been omitted because it is not a sentence. And there are references to licence and parole, which may amount to the same thing as probation. But this isn't my field. I was just interested in your question. Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 11:05
  • @RonaldSole - I see. Thank you.
    – brilliant
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 14:32

2 Answers 2


The general term for release after conviction instead of jail is probation. The terms of a probation order may include curfews, restrictions on movement, electronic tagging, participation in drug rehab programs, etc. Informally, you would say that somebody is on probation, in the same way as you would for employment. Formally, you would say that somebody is subject to a probation order.

If somebody has not yet been convicted of a crime (or in some cases, not yet charged), they can be released on bail. This usually involves depositing money, and may also involve restrictions on movement, etc.


A suspended sentence is "a judicial punishment which is not enforced unless a further crime is committed during a specified period".

In the UK, a suspended sentence "can be applied if the term of imprisonment is under two years and the offender agrees to comply with court requirements including a curfew, performing unpaid work and rehabilitation".

Note: in Canada, the term "conditional sentence" refers to something similar to house arrest. One source defines it as "a sentence of incarceration which is permitted to be served in the community under strict conditions, typically consisting of house arrest, for up to two years less a day".

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