Consecutive Sentence

Last Updated: April 22, 2019

Definition - What does Consecutive Sentence mean?

A consecutive sentence is a legal decree where the defendant is obligated to serve successive terms of incarceration following the conviction to multiple counts in a single crime or, in some jurisdictions, different crimes in either the same incident or an isolated case, reflecting the decision made by a judge. Moreover, consecutive sentencing is contingent on separate factors including prior criminal history and circumstances surrounding a case, for example, malicious intent calculated to inflict harm or injury to a victim, weighing the severity of the offense against the prison term(s) that ensue later.

WorkplaceTesting explains Consecutive Sentence

Depending on the case, a judge will determine whether to levy the maximum prison term for each criminal count proportionate to the nature of the offense. In legal proceedings, defendants convicted of infractions or misdemeanors generally receive immediate sentencing; however, felony cases cover an exhaustive ground where feedback from defense counsel, prosecutors, and probation officers assist the judge in rendering apropos sentencing. Although justices can exercise discretion aligned with state laws in delivering sentences, assimilating information and holding the facts against any prior convictions can determine if a defendant serving consecutive sentences qualifies for parole.

The bureaucracy surrounding felony cases is rigorous, especially if a defendant has a history of committing felonies, where federal and state laws often dictate mandatory sentencing. This legal measure overrides a judge’s authority to exercise discretion given the weight of the Three Strikes citation, which underlines two or more violent felonies as grounds for life imprisonment, negating consecutive sentencing altogether. Because the existence of a previous record serves as a factor in consecutive sentencing, a judge may grant lenient terms that, in some cases, can be deemed by the public as incommensurate sentencing based on details of the offense(s).

In the workplace, convictions and subsequent prison time can pose immediate barriers to career opportunities against potential discrimination from employers reluctant to hire applicants with a criminal record. With consecutive sentencing, a judge may extend parole as a means to demonstrate good behavior, but many ex-offenders contend with the negative implications of their criminal history when attempting to enter the workforce. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal mandate that protects candidates against discrimination.

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