The criminal could have been sentenced to five years in prison, but he "got off the hook" with only one.
Der Straftäter hätte zu 5 Jahren Gefängnis verurteilt werden können, aber er kam mit nur einem Jahr davon.
There are several ways to express this. I chose davonkommen above, considering the serious nature of it. You could also say aber er bekam nur ein Jahr. I rather know jemanden vom Haken lassen, i. e. you need someone who does that, e. g. in this case a judge. The mental picture is that of a fish set free, which doesn't fit well when he still got 1 year in prison.
(Volker Landgraf added in a comment "mit einem blauen Auge davonkommen" which is also often used to elaborate a bit more. You can very well use it. Its literal meaning is that someone got away with a black eye (only)).
I was supposed to pay the dinner bill for the entire party, but I think I'm "off the hook" now.
Ich sollte die Rechnung für die ganze Partei bezahlen, aber ich denke ich bin jetzt aus dem Schneider.
(Note: Maybe Gesellschaft depending on the context. Partei means a political party).
Aus dem Schneider kommen is unknown to me. It's aus dem Schneider sein. It can well be used if you have done something wrong and fear the consequences, but then someone else confesses and no one bothers you.
Again, there are several other ways to express it, I would probably drop the Schneider entirely and maybe say something like aber das hat sich jetzt erledigt (that the plan to let me pay is done with).
LEO translates "(to let someone) off the hook" the following ways:
- "jmdm. aus der Patsche helfen" (to help someone out of something)
- "jmdn. aus der Verantwortung nehmen" (absolving someone from their responsibility)
- "jmdm. verzeihen" (to pardon / forgive someone)
They don't really fit, but the let may be at fault here.
So I would suggest these possibilities
- aus dem Schneider sein