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sentence

1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted of a crime. A sentence is ordered by the judge, based on the verdict of the jury (or the judge's decision if there is no jury) within the possible punishments set by state law (or federal law in convictions for a federal crime). Popularly, "sentence" refers to the jail or prison time ordered after conviction, as in "his sentence was 10 years in state prison." Technically, a sentence includes all fines, community service, restitution or other punishment, or terms of probation. Defendants who are first offenders without a felony record may be entitled to a probation or pre-sentence report by a probation officer based on background information and circumstances of the crime, often resulting in a recommendation as to probation and amount of punishment. For misdemeanors (lesser crimes) the maximum sentence is usually one year in county jail, but for felonies (major crimes) the sentence can range from a year to the death penalty for murder in most states. Under some circumstances the defendant may receive a "suspended sentence," which means the punishment is not imposed if the defendant does not get into other trouble for the period he/she would have spent in jail or prison; "concurrent sentences," in which the prison time for more than one crime is served at the same time and only lasts as long as the longest term; "consecutive sentences," in which the terms for several crimes are served one after another; and "indeterminate" sentences, in which the actual release date is not set and will be based on review of prison conduct. 2) v. to impose a punishment on a person convicted of a crime.

See also: capital punishment  indeterminate sentence  restitution  suspended sentence 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications