Criminal sentencing occurs when a person is sentenced for some kind of criminal activity. Criminal sentencing can take different forms such as fines, community service, jail time, or fines. An indeterminate sentence consists of a range of years such as one to five years or 20 years to life. There is a minimal amount of time the individual must do before they can be released from prison on parole. Also, a parole board usually makes the final determination on when the individual leaves prison. If the individual does not receive an indeterminate sentence, they could receive a determinate sentence.

What Is a Determinate Sentence?

Unlike an indeterminate sentence, this type of criminal sentence is not defined by a range of time. Instead, a determinate sentence has a fixed timeframe such as six years in prison. For example, the person is not sentenced to 20 years to life, but rather they are sentenced to 25 years or life without parole.

Another difference between the two types of sentences is the involvement of a parole board. A parole board can only decide the length of an indeterminate sentence, not a determinate one.  

Do I Have to Complete the Entire Sentence?

Not always. A person can be sentenced to a specific or minimum time period according to the statute and end up not serving the whole sentence. Instead, they may be released early from jail or prison for good behavior prior to that date.

Is Determinate the Same as a Consecutive Sentence?

No. A consecutive, or cumulative, sentence occurs when an individual has been convicted of multiple counts. Each count is either for a different crime or several instances of the same crime. Each sentence is then added onto each other. So after the individual completes one sentence, they must then start serving another until they are all finished.

A determinate sentence just punishes a person for specific amount of time, not multiple, separate periods of time. It is not more than one sentence.

Should I Talk with an Attorney about Determinate Sentencing?

If you are facing criminal charges, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney. A criminal attorney will help you fight the charge or charges you face and possibly avoid determinate sentencing.