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What are the different types of prison sentences?

In our blog post last week, we discussed the case of the man who was questioned about his shoe collection and taxes during the sentencing phase of a drug-related conviction. If you recall, the judge in that case sentenced the man to only 18 months in prison on the charges, even though the man faced 80 years behind bars. That case might have some people wanting to know more about the different types of sentences that judges can hand down.

What is a consecutive sentence?

A consecutive sentence means that the sentence handed down for each conviction in a series of convictions is separate and must be served separately. This means that as one sentence ends, the next begins. For example, a person who is given 10-year, five-year and three-year sentences served consecutively would actually have a total sentence of 18 years.

What is a concurrent sentence?

A concurrent sentence is a series of sentences that can be served at the same time instead of one after the other. For example, a person who is given a 10-year, five-year, and three-year sentence served concurrently would have to actually serve the 10-year sentence because the five-year and three-year sentences are served during the 10-year sentence.

Are there other types of sentences?

Some defendants might hear other terms, such as deferred sentences or indeterminate sentences. A deferred sentence is one that is postponed until a later time. An indeterminate sentence is one that gives a range of times, such as five to 10 years.

Understanding these sentencing terms can help defendants who are facing the sentencing phase of a trial. They can also help a person who is contemplating a plea agreement.

Source: FindLaw, "Types of Sentences," accessed April. 03, 2015

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