The judgment formally pronounced by the court or judge upon the defendant after his conviction in a criminal prosecution, imposing the punishment to be inflicted, usually in the form of a fine, incarceration, or probation.
See e.g. 18 U.S.C.A. No. 3551.
Judgment of court formally advising accused of legal consequences of guilt which he has confessed or of which he has been convicted. Sentencing may be carried out by a judge, jury, or sentencing council (panel or judges), depending on the statutes of the jurisdiction.
The word is properly confined to criminal proceedings. In Civil cases, the terms "judgment," "decision," "award," "finding," etc., are used. Archer v. Snook, D.C.Ga., 10 F.2d 567, 569.
For review of sentence of federal prisoner, see postconviction remedies.
- sentencing
- sentencing guidelines
- split sentence
@ concurrent sentence
A sentence imposed which is to be served at the same time as another sentence imposed earlier or at the same proceeding.
@ cumulative sentences
Separate sentences (each additional to the others) imposed upon a defendant who has been convicted upon an indictment containing several counts, each of such counts charging a distinct offense, or who is under conviction at the same time for several distinct offenses; one of such sentences being made to begin at the expiration of another. Carter v. McClaughry, 183 U.S. 365, 22 S.Ct. 181, 46 L.Ed. 236.
@ deferred sentence
A sentence, the execution of which is postponed until a future time.
+ deferred sentence
A sentence, the pronouncement of which has been postponed. It does not operate as a suspension of sentence.
@ definite sentence
Sentence set by law with no discretion for the judge or correctional officials to individualize punishment.
See fixed sentence, below.
+ definite sentence
Sentence calling for imprisonment for specified number of years as contrasted with indeterminate sentence which leaves duration to prison authorities (e.g. parole boards) and good behavior of prisoner.
Also called "determinate sentence"
@ determinate sentence
A sentence for a fixed period of time. Also called definite sentence, above.
See fixed sentence.
+ determinate sentence
Sentence to confinement for a fixed period as specified by statute as contrasted with an indeterminate sentence, the duration of which is only partly governed by statute; the duration of the latter, in the main, being governed by behavior of prisoner.
See also sentence
@ ecclesiastical sentence
In ecclesiastical procedure, analogous to "judgment" (q.v.) in an ordinary action.
@ final sentence
One which puts an end to a case.
Distinguished from interlocutory sentence. A definite sentence is one which puts an end to the suit, and regards the principal matter in question as concluded. An interlocutory sentence determines only some incidental matter in the proceedings.
@ fixed sentence
Fixed sentencing statutes specify the exact penalty that will follow conviction of each offense.
See mandatory sentence, below.
See also sentencing guidelines.
@ indeterminate sentence
@ indefinite sentence
@ indeterminate or indefinite sentence
indeterminate (indefinite) sentence
A form of sentence to imprisonment upon conviction of crime, authorized by statute in several states, which, instead of fixing rigidly the duration of the imprisonment, declares that it shall be for a period "not less than" so many years "nor more than" so many years, or not less than the minimum period prescribed by statute as the punishment for the particular offense nor more than the maximum period, the exact length of the term being afterwards fixed, within the limits assigned by the court or the statute, by an executive authority (the governor, board of pardons, etc.), on consideration of the previous record of the convict, his behavior while in prison or while out on parole, the apparent prospect of reformation and other such considerations.
See also presumptive sentence.
A sentence to incarceration with a spread of time between a minimum date of parole eligibility and a maximum discharge date. A completely indeterminate sentence has a minimum of one day and a maximum of natural life.
+ indeterminate sentence
A sentence to imprisonment for the maximum period defined by law, subject to termination by the parole board or other agency at any time after service of the minimum period. Such a sentence is invalid unless specifically authorized by statute. A sentence of imprisonment the duration of which is not fixed by the court but is left to the determination of penal authorities within minimum and maximum time limits fixed by the court of law.
See also sentence
- sentencing guidelines
@ interlocutory sentence
A temporary sentence imposed pending final sentencing. In the civil law, a sentence on some indirect question arising from the principal cause.
@ life sentence
The disposition of a serious criminal case (e.g. capital offenses) by which the convicted defendant is sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life in prison.
@ mandatory sentence
Statutes in some jurisdictions require a judge to sentence a convicted defendant to a penal institution for a prescribed time for the specific crime and furnish little or no room for discretion. These statutes generally provide that the sentence may not be suspended and that no probation may be imposed, leaving the judge with no alternative but commitment.
See fixed sentence, above, and sentencing guidelines.
@ maximum sentence
A maximum sentence sets the outer limit beyond which a prisoner cannot be held in custody.
@ merger of sentences
See merger.
@ minimum sentence
The minimum time which an offender must spend in prison before becoming eligible for parole or release. A "minimum term" is a maximum term less good conduct time. Birch v. Anderson, 358 F.2d 520, 526, 123 U.S.App.D.C. 153.
+ minimum sentence
The least severe sentence which a judge may impose
@ presumptive sentence
A sentence in which the judge is given guidelines that control the extent of the prison term. There is a presumptive average sentence for each type of offense which can be raised or lowered depending on the presence of mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
See also indeterminate sentence (indefinite sentence), above
@ sentence in absentia
Sentencing of defendant in his absence
@ split sentence
A sentence in which part of the time is served in confinement and the balance is served on probation or on terms imposed by the court.
+ split sentence
One where penalty of fine and imprisonment, as provided by statute, is imposed and imprisonment part is suspended and fine part enforced. It is also exemplified in a sentence by which the defendant serves some time and the balance of the sentence is suspended
@ straight sentence
@ flat sentence
@ straight or flat sentence
straight or flat sentence
Fixed sentence without a maximum or minimum
@ suspension of sentence
This term may mean either a withholding or postponing the sentencing of a prisoner after the conviction, or a postponing of the execution of the sentence after it has been pronounced. In the latter case, it may, for reasons addressing themselves to the discretion of the court, be indefinite as to time, or during the good behavior of the prisoner.
@ withheld sentence
Sentence not imposed
@ sentencing
The postconviction stage of the criminal justice process in which the defendant is brought before the court for imposition of sentence. Usually a trial judge imposes sentence, but in some jurisdictions sentencing is performed by jury or by sentencing councils.
For federal crimes, an individual may be sentenced either to a term of probation, a term of imprisonment, or be required to pay a fine. 18 U.S.C.A. No. 3551. Sentencing has been held to be a "critical stage" of a criminal proceeding requiring assistance of appointed counsel. Mempa v. Rhay, 389 U.S. 128, 88 S.Ct. 254, 19 L.Ed.2d 336.
- sentencing guidelines
@ imposition of sentence
Sentence shall be imposed without unreasonable delay. Before imposing sentence, the court shall afford counsel an opportunity to speak on behalf of the defendant and shall address the defendant personally and ask him if he wishes to make a statement in his own behalf and to present any information in mitigation of punishment. The attorney for the government shall have an equivalent opportunity to speak to the court. Fed.R.Crim.P. 32(a).
For federal crimes, the court, in determining the particular sentence to be imposed, shall consider: the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant; the need for the sentence imposed; and the kinds and sentencing range established under the sentencing guidelines. 18 U.S. C.A. No. 3553.
See also sentencing guidelines

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.

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  • sentence — sen·tence 1 / sent əns, ənz/ 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… …   Law dictionary

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  • Sentence — • In canon law, the decision of the court upon any issue brought before it Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Sentence     Sentence      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • sentence — 1. Many users of this book will have been taught that a sentence is a group of words that makes complete sense, contains a main verb, and when written begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop (or a question mark if it is a question… …   Modern English usage

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  • sentence — [sent′ ns] n. [OFr < L sententia, way of thinking, opinion, sentiment, prob. for sentientia < sentiens, prp. of sentire, to feel, SENSE] 1. a) a decision or judgment, as of a court; esp., the determination by a court of the punishment of a… …   English World dictionary

  • Sentence — Sen tence, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Sentenced}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Sentencing}.] 1. To pass or pronounce judgment upon; to doom; to condemn to punishment; to prescribe the punishment of. [1913 Webster] Nature herself is sentenced in your doom. Dryden.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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