How do multiple counts of a crime affect a sentence?

Exactly how a prosecutor chooses to bring charges against a defendant is often arbitrary. Many people don’t even realize that they can be charged several times for what they think of as one single incident.

For example, if you’re arrested for the possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, you may think that you’re only going to face two charges, only to find out that you’re facing more than a dozen. Why? Because your stash of marijuana was tucked inside a tin full of a dozen rolling papers along with a couple of pipes. Each rolling paper and pipe can count as a distinct charge — greatly enhancing the possible penalty you face if you’re convicted.

It’s important to understand that the potential for grave consequences is quite high when you’re charged with multiple counts of the same crime — even if you think that the crime is relatively minor.

Look at the case of a Maryland man who was recently convicted of stealing tires and rims from luxury vehicles so that he could resell them elsewhere. He was convicted of numerous counts of grand larceny, with a charge leveled for every tire and rim. Because of the numerous counts of grand larceny, as well as a few other charges, he now faces up to 132 years behind bars.

In cases where someone is charged with multiple counts of the same crime, the judge often has to decide if the convicted defendant will serve the sentence concurrently or consecutively. A concurrent sentence means that time for two or more of the convictions will all be served at once. A consecutive sentence means that the sentence for each conviction has to be served one after the other.

Judges will frequently take into account the defendant’s criminal history and the nature of the crime when imposing a concurrent or consecutive sentence — but it can still be a long time in prison. That’s one of the many reasons it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating for you in court.

Source:, “Maryland man arrested in Holmdel could face 132 years for stealing tires, rims,” Katie Park, July 19, 2017

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