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Court's sentencing wording affects ability to seek parole

For people who are facing criminal charges, finding out the possible sentences for their charges is something that becomes a priority. While there are some guidelines for most crimes in Maryland, there is usually some leeway regarding sentencing. A person can be sentenced to incarceration, probation, fines, community service, a host of other options or a combination of two or more of these options.

When it comes to sentences involving incarceration, there are several different terms that a person might hear. These terms can have a significant impact on the amount of time the person spends behind bars. For many incarceration sentences, a person will have the option of seeking parole after a certain amount of time. When or if the person can seek release from prison depends on how the sentence is handed down from the court.

An important distinction made when a person is facing more than one criminal conviction is whether the sentences are being imposed consecutively or concurrently. When sentences are ordered to run consecutively, that means one sentence doesn't start until the other sentence ends. This means if one conviction has a 10-year sentence and the other conviction has a 15 year, the person has a total of 25 years in prison.

When sentences are ordered to run concurrently, the sentences run at the same time. Using the same example, the 10-year sentence and the 15-year sentence are served at the same time, so the person would only have a total of 15 years to serve.

As you can see, there is a big time difference between those concurrent and consecutive sentences. This is one reason why it is important for people who are facing criminal charges to have someone who is knowledgeable about various types of sentences work on their case.

Source: FindLaw, "Types of Sentences" Nov. 01, 2014

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