Explaining Messi's Suspended Jail Sentence, Tax Fraud Implications

From Sports Illustrated

The Spanish Court of Catalonia on Wednesday found Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, guilty of tax fraud. Spanish prosecutors proved that the father-son tandem orchestrated a criminal scheme to avoid paying over €4 million in taxes related to earnings from the sale and licensing of Lionel Messi’s image. As part of their punishment, both men were sentenced to 21 months in prison — but don’t expect either to spend a day behind bars.

Under Spanish law, sentences of less than 24 months for “first-time” offenders—that is, those without a criminal record — are typically “suspended.” A suspended prison sentence is one where a convicted defendant does not actually serve time in prison, so long as the defendant meets certain conditions within a specified probationary period.

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