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Sentencing terms you should know in a criminal case

One concern of people who are defendants in the criminal justice system is what sentence they will have to deal with. This is a big factor since it is what determines whether you will be locked behind bars or remain able to enjoy your freedom.

There are a few basic terms that will help you to understand what is going on when a sentence in a criminal case is handed down. Knowing what these mean might make it easier for you to know how the sentence will impact your life.

Consecutive vs. concurrent

Consecutive and concurrent are terms that let you know how the sentences will be served. These are often used when a judge is handing down an incarceration. A consecutive sentence is one that is served one at a time. A concurrent sentence is one that is served at the same time. For example, if you have two sentences for five years each, you would serve a total of 10 years if the sentence is consecutive or five years if it is concurrent.

Deferred vs. suspended

A deferred sentence is one that is put off until a specific time. For example, a court ordered drug treatment program might be deferred until a jail term is served. A suspended sentence is one that is put on hold and usually dismissed if you complete the other sentencing points successfully. If you don’t complete them, such as if you violate probation, you might have to serve the suspended sentence.

As you can see, these terms might seem somewhat similar, but they are very different. It is imperative that you take the time to learn what your sentence means so you can ensure that you know what you need to do.

Source: FindLaw, “Types of Sentences,” accessed Aug. 02, 2017

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