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Concurrent Sentence

Definition - What does Concurrent Sentence mean?

A concurrent sentence allows a convicted criminal who has pleaded guilty to multiple crimes or been convicted of multiple offenses to serve their prison sentences at the same time. Concurrent sentencing differs from consecutive sentencing, which forces the convicted criminal to serve both sentences one right after the other.

Justipedia explains Concurrent Sentence

For example, let's say that a man is sentenced to 10 years in prison for his first offense and five years in prison for his second offense. If the court determines that his sentence will run concurrently, he will serve 10 years. On the other hand, if the court determines that the sentences should run consecutively, he would have to serve the prison sentences back-to-back for a total of 15 years.

Whether or not a convicted criminal will be sentenced to consecutive or concurrent sentences is often left to the discretion of the judge, who may weigh a variety of factors: the severity of the crimes, the length of the potential prison sentence, the criminal’s past criminal history, the types of penalties available for a specific crime, the sentence range established by sentencing guidelines, and whether there were mitigating or aggravating factors.

Other times, however, state or federal sentencing laws or criminal statutes will determine the type of sentence that is assessed, and the judge will have little say in the final decision.

For example, federal courts generally have very specific guidelines for sentencing, which are outlined in the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Criminals convicted of a federal crime will be sentenced based on the formulas outlined in this guide, including whether or not their sentence can be served concurrently or whether they must be served consecutively.

The benefits of a concurrent sentence for the convicted criminal cannot be overstated. Convicted criminals who can convince a judge to allow their sentences to run concurrently can avoid years in prison. Whether or not the courts will have discretion in sentencing, however, depends on the factors outlined above.

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