We'll get back to you about when to begin your prison term

This question is inspired by The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. I’ve just started reading the book, btw, and haven’t seen the movie, so please box any spoilers even though this is GQ.

One of the main characters, Mikail “Carl” Blomkvist, gets a 90 day prison sentence for libel. But he’s allowed to walk out of the courtroom on his own recognizance, and further reading shows that he will receive further instructions about his prison term, “probably within the year.”

That’s an eyebrow raiser for me (who has only been to court for a traffic violation, knock wood). I’ve been under the impression that once a prison sentence is passed, the bailiff removes the convict from the courtroom. Said convict goes back to the jail immediately and is, within a few weeks, transported to his new accommodations in The Big House.

Am I in general wrong in my impression? Do people convicted of non-violent crimes, in most jurisdictions, get to go free until asked to report to prison? Is this a common practice in the United States? And in cases where there is a delay between passing and execution of a prison sentence, what privileges are suspended for the convict, if any? I imagine passports would be suspended, but what else?

I’ve seen, on the news, several occasions where a convicted person is allowed to leave the courtroom after sentencing with a surrender date for starting their sentence. I suppose it’s a courtesy granted so that individual can tie up loose ends etc. These are typically less serious crimes as the 90 day sentence in your OP would indicate.

You can also be out on bail while appealing in some cases. I read a book where that was the case for a woman convicted of murder - I assume that was a very rare case.

It’s not uncommon when an accused person has posted bail and so is free before and during the trial. Upon sentencing a judge may choose to allow the now convicted person to remain free, continuing the existing bail convictions, until a specific date when they are to “surrender for service of sentence.” Typically that means reporting directly to the correctional facility where the term is to be served.

And yes, this usually happens only in cases involving relatively minor, non-violent crimes. And occasionally brings loud protest from victims’ families when it does happen in more serious cases.

BTW, the Spike Lee film 25th Hour is built around this situation. It covers the last 24 hours before Edward Norton’s character is to turn himself in at an upstate New York prison where he’s been sentenced to serve a seven-year term.

Here’s a link with some further information. This is specific to convictions for federal crimes in the Southern District of New York – but the essentials are the same regardless of the jurisdiction. That is, in jurisdictions where this is done at all; it’s certainly not done everywhere.

http://probation.nysd.uscourts.gov/FAQ.html#10 (and over the next couple of FAQ points.)

As detailed there, in the Federal system the convicted person reports immediately after the trial concludes to the U.S. Probation Office. The Bureau of Prisons designates a facility and a report date, and notifies probation, which passes the info on to the individual, who then either surrenders at that facility or to the U.S. Marshal Service.

Sometimes, the person can delay the start of the sentence, like Wesley Snipes did until just recently when his appeals failed.

Sometimes, the person can go in and out of jail and serve the sentence in increments. The dad and mom of balloon boy were to serve 90 days and 20 days, respectively, but they were allowed to do it on weekends only. So they’re report Friday night to jail and get released Sunday morning.

Sometimes, the person can leave prison to attend important functions like a funeral, as Bernie Madoff just failed to get permission for.

The OP forgot to mention that the book is set in Sweden … they may have rules different from the US.

I just finished all 3 books. I found the setting to be a bit distracting as I kept hitting up google maps to see where they were talking about.

I am accustomed to British and US mysteries and I know the maps fairly well. I just have a thing for fitting things into a mental map to make distances and travel time make sense =)

There’s a scene in the film *Goodfellas *that always confused me. Henry Hill is put on trial, convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. Next scene, Henry is at a party. This finishes with him getting into a car and telling the driver “take me to jail.” In the next scene he’s in prison.

Would they really have allowed a suspected gangster, convicted of a violent crime, time between sentence and imprisonment?

Maybe it is different is Sweden, but who gets a 90-day prison sentence? It is expensive to process prisoners, and prisons are not set up for short term incarceration. Most people who get less than a year go to jail, which are a specifically set up for shorter term residents.

The real Henry Hill beat the state charges (kidnapping and attempted murder) that involved violent crimes. He was convicted of extortion in federal court. I think time between sentence and imprisonment is fairly routine.

By the way, the real Henry Hill considered running away to Canada.

The terms are often used interchangeably. I don’t know how the Swedish term translates, but the English translation I read used both “gaol” and “prison”.

Readers in the US unfamiliar with other legal systems may be surprised that the character gets jail time for libel, which is not a criminal offense here.

To answer the OP, I don’t know how common it is. I know a guy who disappeared for a while. It turns out he had driven a few states over to serve a sentence for reckless homicide.
A few years back I read an article about some country (I forget which, some nothern germanic speaking place like iceland or denmark or sweden or something) that had very long delays for prison sentences. It mentioned people who had been married for a few years and then one spouse says “surprise! I have to go away for a while.”

I think the difference between “prison” and “jail” is a US thing. In Ireland the two terms are used interchangeably.