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The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.



sentence n

[Old French, opinion, judicial sentence, from Latin sententia, ultimately from sentire to feel, think, express an opinion]
1 : a judgment formally pronouncing the punishment to be inflicted on one convicted of a crime
2 : the punishment that one convicted of a crime is ordered to receive

concurrent sentence
: a sentence that runs at the same time as another

consecutive sentence
: a sentence that runs before or after another

cumulative sentence
: consecutive sentence in this entry
: the combination of two or more consecutive sentences

death sentence
: a sentence condemning the convicted defendant to death

de·ter·mi·nate sentence
: a sentence for a fixed rather than indeterminate length of time

general sentence
: a sentence that does not allocate the punishment imposed for the individual counts on which the defendant was convicted NOTE: General sentences are impermissible.

in·de·ter·mi·nate sentence
: a sentence of minimum and maximum duration with the exact length to be later determined (as by a parole board)

life sentence
: a sentence of imprisonment for the rest of the convicted defendant's life

mandatory sentence
: a sentence that is specifically required or falls within a range required by statute as punishment for an offense [imposed the minimum mandatory sentence for distributing drugs near a school]

presumptive sentence
: a sentence that is the presumed punishment for an offense and is subject to the upward or downward adjustment of its severity depending on aggravating and mitigating factors

split sentence
: a sentence of which part is served in prison and the other suspended and usually replaced by probation

suspended sentence
: a sentence the imposition or execution of which is suspended by the court
vt sen·tenced
: to impose a sentence on

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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