Instead, the judge delivered a one-two punch that will put Tyson in jail for a year and his boxing career in serious jeopardy, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr.
The 32-year-old heavyweight had pleaded no contest to charges that he beat up two motorists after the three were involved in a minor chain reaction car accident last August near Washington.
But the judge, noting that Tyson "repeatedly speaks and acts compulsively," labelled Tyson's actions a "tragic example of potentially lethal road rage."
Tyson appeared stoic throughout the hearing. During a 30-minute recess, he stroked the face of his wife, Monica, and quietly chatted with her. Then came the sentence.
Upon hearing the judge's words, Tyson's broad shoulders slumped, and he was led away in handcuffs while his wife cried.
Tyson, who pleaded no contest, can appeal the sentence within 30 days. He cannot be released on bail before Monday, when he can request a hearing.
The decision came three weeks after Tyson's successful comeback against Francois Botha. Tyson was scheduled to fight April 24 in Las Vegas against an opponent who has not yet been determined.
Judge Stephen Johnson handed Tyson a two-year sentence but suspended one year. The judge fined Tyson $5,000 and sentenced him to two years probation after his release from jail.
CBS News Correspondent Barry Bagnato reports that Tyson's attorneys have said that the former heavyweight boxing champion's career in the ring is over because of the court ruling.
Indiana authorities must now decide whether the fighter violated his probation for a 1991 rape conviction. Tyson was released in 1995 after serving three years of a six-year sentence, and his probation was set to expire in March.
Tyson's boxing license had been reinstated by the Nevada Athletic Commission in October, after a one-year suspension for biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear during a fight in June 1997. The commission will now have to decide if Tyson's license should be suspended again.
Tyson kicked one motorist and punched another after a three-car fender bender in Gaithersburg, Md., on Aug. 31. In December, Tyson pleaded no contest meaning he neither protested the charges nor admitted guilt.
He could have received up to 20 years in jail.
The two victims, Abmielec Saucedo and Richard Hardick, settled out of court, and were against sending Tyson to jail.
The prosecutor, Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler, wanted Tyson behind bars, but was hampered by a plea agreement negotiated by his predecessor, Robert Dean. Dean had said he would recommend no jail time in return for the no-contest plea.
Gansler's memo to the judge called Tyson "nothing less than a time bomb." Gansler detailed Tyson's 1991 rape conviction iIndiana, seven brushes with the law as a juvenile, and the Holyfield fight.