Skip to Content
Serving Los Angeles County and the Greater Southern California Area
Se Habla Español
(310) 361-3068

Common terms to know during sentencing


One of the most common things that people want to know when arrested is what type of sentence they’re facing. While they can find out the range and what’s common in similar cases, they can’t find out for certain until the presiding judge hands down a sentence.

When the judge gives out the sentence, some terms might not be familiar. Understanding these terms can help them to know exactly what they’re facing.

Concurrent versus consecutive

A sentence is handed down for each conviction, which means that there are multiple sentences when there are multiple convictions. In this case, the judge has to determine whether those sentences are served consecutively or concurrently. Consecutive means that one starts as the previous one ends. Concurrent means they can run at the same time, which means the total time served is shorter than in a consecutive sentence.

Alternative versus suspended sentence

An alternative sentence is one that keeps the person out of jail or prison. Probation, fines and community service fall in this category. In some cases, the judge will hand down an alternative sentence that’s combined with a suspended sentence. The terms of the suspended sentence will only be served if the person fails to comply with the other sentencing points.

Defendants in criminal cases should ensure they understand the charges they’re facing and what possible sentences come with those. This information could help to shape the defense strategy the person is using. Because these cases can be rather complex, it’s imperative that they have someone on their side who’s familiar with these cases so they can help to learn the options and how each might impact their future.

Share To: