When a defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, sentencing will be part of their criminal case. In some cases, a defendant may decide to take a plea deal where they plead guilty in return for reduced sentences. In this article, we will discuss the types of sentencing a guilty defendant may receive.
Types of Sentencing For Criminal Cases
A judge may use any of the following types of sentencing depending on the crime, circumstances of the case, the law, and their discretion. Below we have included a list of the types of sentences a defendant may receive if they are found guilty or plead guilty.
- Presumptive sentencing – In some cases, the law will lay out the sentencing guidelines for particular charges. It may determine the length of sentencing or how the sentence should be served. Presumptive sentencing guidelines will often provide a range for the judge to use their discretion when sentencing.
- Suspended sentence – A suspended sentence could be served in two ways. Either there is a “suspension” or waiting period between the conviction and sentencing, or there is a waiting period between the sentencing and the serving of the sentence.
- Mandatory sentence – Like presumptive sentencing, the law will state the sentence for a specific crime. However, this is the required sentence, and there is no room for judge’s discretion. Mandatory sentences often do not allow probation or suspended sentences.
- Straight sentence/Flat sentence – A fixed sentence that gives no maximum or minimum.
- Minimum sentence – The convicted defendant must serve the minimum time in prison before they are eligible for early release or parole.
- Maximum sentence – The convicted defendant may not be held in custody longer than the maximum sentence.
- Deferred sentence – The execution of the sentence is deferred until a later date. Usually, the judge will also give the circumstances or date when the sentence will be executed.
- Life sentence – A life sentence means that the defendant will spend the rest of their life in prison. These are usually reserved for serious crimes.
- Concurrent sentence – If the defendant receives a number of sentences in the same case, they may be permitted to serve them concurrently. This means that the time they spend in prison counts towards all of the sentences.
- Consecutive sentence – As above, the defendant may receive a number of sentences during a case. If they serve them consecutively, it means that their sentences add up to give them a total time in prison.
- Fixed sentence or determinate sentence – The sentence states a fixed period of time for the sentencing. The defendant cannot serve more or less than this time.
- Indeterminate sentence – The sentence allows for probation or early release depending on the defendant’s conduct in prison. An indeterminate sentence will be worded as “no more than X” or “no less than X.” This type of sentencing is not given in every state; only some states allow indeterminate sentencing.
- Final sentence – This sentence ends a criminal case and does not allow the case to be tried again. Some cases may have interim or interlocutory sentences, while other aspects of the case or other charges in the case are awaiting trial.