Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, was sentenced to one year in prison after being found guilty of illegal campaign financing in the 2012 elections.
But a judge said the 66-year-old, who served from 2007-2012, can serve his sentence at home by wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.
Prosecutors had asked for at least six months in prison for Sarkozy, as well as a six-month suspended sentence.
It comes six months after Sarkozy was sentenced to one year in prison with two years suspended for attempting to bribe a judge.
He is currently on bail pending an appeal in this case, and is also expected to appeal today’s ruling.
Nicolas Sarkozy, who was President of the Republic from 2007 to 2012, was found guilty of illegal campaign financing in the elections he lost to FranÃ§ois Hollande.
He has more corruption trials to come, including allegations he received millions of laundered money from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
In the campaign finance case, Sarkozy was accused of spending nearly double the Â£ 19.5million allocated to re-election campaigns under French law during the 2012 re-election bid that ‘he had lost against FranÃ§ois Hollande.
Prosecutors say Sarkozy was warned near election day that his campaign had almost reached the spending limit, but continued to organize large rallies.
The campaign ultimately spent nearly Â£ 37million, but could not prevent Sarkozy from losing to Mr Hollande.
A public relations company called Bygmalion was later accused of covering up the expenses.
The court heard how officials close to Sarkozy came up with the idea of ââsetting up false “agreements” that would appear on false invoices.
Prosecutors said Sarkozy was not directly involved in the cover-up, but that he had to know that he had overspent and that as campaign leader he had to take ultimate responsibility for how she was conducted.
The scandal became known in France as the “Bygmalion affair”.
Sarkozy today refused to appear before the judge of the Paris Criminal Court and let his legal team represent him, as he has done throughout the process.
The snub has aroused strong criticism, prosecutors Vanessa PerrÃ©e and Nicolas BaÃ¯etto accusing it of “undermining the values ââof democracy”.
Sarkozy was on the dock with 13 associates including members of his conservative Les RÃ©publicains party, accountants and leaders of the Bygmalion group.
Sarkozy was not in court and was instead represented by lawyer Thierry Herzog (photo), the judge berating him for “undermining democracy” by not appearing
Among his former colleagues found guilty at his side were JÃ©rÃ´me Lavrilleux and Guillaume Lambert.
Three of the defendants, who were linked to the public relations agency Bygmalion, admitted to having produced false receipts.
Others face charges of counterfeiting, breach of trust, fraud and aiding and abetting illegal campaign finance, and have pleaded not guilty.
Sarkozy, a right-wing conservative whose party was called the UMP (Union for a Popular Movement) had denied any wrongdoing.
In March, Sarkozy was convicted of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced to three years in prison, two of which were suspended.
If he is still convicted on appeal, he is likely to be able to serve his sentence at the home he shares with his third wife, former supermodel Carla Bruni, 53, while wearing an electronic tag.
Sarkozy also faces allegations that he received millions of laundered money from the late Libyan dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Sarkozy’s conservative predecessor as President of France, the late Jacques Chirac, received a two-year suspended prison sentence in 2011 for corruption, but this was linked to his tenure as mayor of Paris.
The last French head of state to be imprisoned was Marshal Philippe PÃ©tain, the Nazi collaborator during the war.