Understanding Consecutive And Concurrent Sentences

Defendants convicted of more than one crime can mean all the difference. If you are required to serve consecutive sentences, it could mean surviving double the jail time. Ideally, you want to serve concurrent sentences. Depending on the defendant’s history and the crimes committed, sentences can be served simultaneously.

What Is A Consecutive Sentence?

In consecutive sentencing, the defendant must finish serving the sentence for one offense before they start serving the others.

Example: John was convicted of three crimes. Crime A carries a maximum possible prison term of five years. Crime B carries a maximum possible prison term of six years. Crime C carries a maximum possible prison term of seven years. If the judge runs the sentences consecutively, John would have to serve each term first before serving the remaining terms. John’s total sentence would be eighteen years in prison.

What Is A Concurrent Sentence?

When a judge allows a defendant to serve their sentence concurrently, the defendants serve all the sentences at the same time rather than back-to-back.

Example: Using the same example above, if John is allowed to serve his sentences concurrently, he would serve Crime A, B, and C’s prison terms at the same time. So, John would serve a total of seven years in prison. While serving Crime C’s seven year term, John would simultaneously serve Crime A and B’s five and six year term as well.

How Can An Experienced Attorney Help You To Serve A Concurrent Sentence?

Convincing the judge to allow sentences to be served concurrently is probably the hardest challenge when facing multiple charges. Not only does the defendant’s history make a difference in the judge’s decision, but the crime committed as well. Some crimes require its sentence to be served consecutively while others do not. It is important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney that can clarify what you face and assist you in getting the lowest possible sentence.