Discharges lie at the bottom of the hierarchy in terms of the types of sentence a court can impose and they take two different forms: an absolute discharge or a conditional discharge. The absolute discharge is the least severe sentence a court can impose upon conviction as it does not require anything from the offender and nor does it impose any restrictions on their future conduct. A conditional discharge, on the other hand, requires that the offender should not commit any further offences during the specified period, which may be up to three years. Conditional discharges are used much more frequently by courts than absolute discharges: in the year to June 2019, courts in England and Wales imposed 38,246 conditional discharges and 4,228 absolute discharges.

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