Examples Of Different Types Of Criminal Sentences

Posted on: 9 October 2019

If you are facing a criminal charge, you should be aware of the potential penalties you might face if you get convicted. Below is an overview of various forms of criminal sentences.

Concurrent vs. Cumulative

Concurrent and cumulative (consecutive) sentences may be handed out to those convicted of multiple crimes. For the concurrent sentences, all the sentences begin at the same time. For the cumulative sentences, the sentences are served one after the other.

Take an example where a defendant is sentenced to one year in jail for driving under the influence and one year in jail for endangering the life of a minor. For the concurrent sentence, the convict will serve only one year behind bars while for the cumulative sentence, the convict will serve two years behind bars.

Determinate vs. Indeterminate

A determinate sentence runs for a fixed period of time while an indeterminate sentence doesn't have a fixed time. For the indeterminate sentence, the judge may only issue the maximum, minimum, or both sentences.

For example, if a convict is sentenced to five years in jail, then that would be a determinate sentence. If the convict is sentenced to 'at least' five years in jail or 'not more than' eight years in jail, then those would be indeterminate sentences.


A straight sentence is one in which the time to be served is exact; it doesn't have a minimum or maximum. Incarceration without parole is usually a form of a straight sentence. For example, if a convict is sentenced to a straight sentence of six years, then they must spend six years behind bars.

Deferred vs. Suspended

A deferred sentence is one that the convict doesn't have to serve immediately; the sentence is postponed to a later date. Typically, deferred sentences come with conditions that the convict must meet or else get sent to jail. In fact, the defendant might not serve any time at all.

For example, if a court gives a defendant a deferred sentence of one year behind bars, the convict doesn't have to serve the sentence immediately. The defendant will only serve the time if they don't satisfy the conditions (for example, committing another crime).

A suspended sentence is more or less like a deferred sentence. The only difference is that the suspended sentence remains on a person's criminal record forever. On the other hand, a deferred sentence doesn't remain on a person's criminal record permanently.

Hopefully, you will get acquitted and not face any of the sentences above. Consult a criminal defense attorney to help you defend your case. Even if your conviction is unavoidable, a lawyer can help you get a relatively lenient sentence.