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Types of Sentences

This article takes a look at the types of sentences being imposed in courts today:

  • Concurrent, in which the sentence is simultaneously served as another sentence that is imposed at the same proceeding, or earlier
  • Consecutive or cumulative, in which the defendant is convicted on several counts, one of each constituting a distinct crime or offense, or when the defendant is convicted, all at the same time, of several crimes. The sentences for each type of crime are stacked on one another - meaning that one sentence will begin after the previous one expires
  • Deferred, when the execution of the sentence is postponed to a later time
  • Determinate or fixed, when the sentence will occur for a fixed amount or period of time
  • Final, which puts the end to a criminal case
  • Indeterminate, which declares that the sentence will be in effect 'not less than' and 'not greater than' a certain prescribed amount of time.
  • Life, which is often used in serious criminal cases, and the convicted individual will spend the rest of his or her life in prison
  • Mandatory, which is created by state law and shows the rendering of a punishment in which the judge has no room for discretion
  • Maximum, which represents the upper limit of a punishment, after which a person may not be held in custody
  • Minimum, which is the minimum time or punishment that a convicted individual must spend imprisoned before being eligible for release or parole
  • Presumptive, which specifies an appropriate sentence for each type of offense that can be used as a baseline for a judge when determining punishment
  • Straight or flat, a fixed sentence that has no minimum or maximum limits
  • Suspended, which could either mean the suspension of the sentence reading following a conviction, or the postponement of the sentence's execution after it has been read

Factors involved in arriving at sentences

If the judge is not working with a mandatory minimum sentence, or a law that will limit his or her discretion, the defense team will often present a range of factors that the judge may consider when trying to arrive at the appropriate sentence. Here are some examples:

  • The defendant's criminal history
  • The defendant as a mere accessory to the crime, or the principal actor
  • The defendant's mental state before the crime was committed
  • The defendant's means of committing the crime - whether anyone was hurt, or if the act was done in a way that would not have hurt anyone

As an example, if the judge is considering the sentence for a bankrobbery suspect, he or she will likely look at the suspect's history - if he or she has done it before and has been convicted, or if this is the first time that the crime was committed. Furthermore, the suspect's role in the crime is important - and so the person who pointed the gun to the bank's customers and the lookout may have two different sentences. Also, the judge may consider if the suspect is undergoing a major stressor in life - such as the loss of a job.

For a competent, experienced lawyer to represent your case, contact The Kyle Law Firm today.

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