Sentence

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sentence

1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted of a crime. A sentence is ordered by the judge, based on the verdict of the jury (or the judge's verdict if there was no jury) within the possible punishments set by state law (or Federal law in convictions for a Federal crime). Popularly, "sentence" refers to the jail or prison time ordered after conviction, as in "his sentence was 10 years in state prison." Technically, a sentence includes all fines, community service, restitution or other punishment, or terms of probation. Defendants who are first offenders without a felony record may be entitled to a probation or pre-sentence report by a probation officer based on background information and circumstances of the crime, often resulting in a recommendation as to probation and amount of punishment. For misdemeanors (lesser crimes) the maximum sentence is usually one year in county jail, but for felonies (major crimes) the sentence can range from a year to the death penalty for murder in most states. Under some circumstances the defendant may receive a "suspended sentence" which means the punishment is not imposed if the defendant does not get into other trouble for the period he/she would have spent in jail or prison, "concurrent sentences" in which the prison time for more than one crime is served at the same time and only lasts as long as the longest term, "consecutive sentences," in which the terms for several crimes are served one after another, and "indeterminate" sentences in which the actual release date is not set and will be based on review of prison conduct. (See: concurrent sentence, suspended sentence, indeterminate sentence, restitution, death penalty)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

SENTENCE. A judgment, or judicial declaration made by a judge in a cause. The term judgment is more usually applied to civil, and sentence to criminal proceedings.
     2. Sentences are final, when they put, an end to the case; or interlocutory, when they settle only some incidental matter which has arisen in the course of its progress. Vide Aso & Man. Inst. B. 3, t. 8, c. 1.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.