When you are facing criminal charges, you might be worried about how you will be sentenced if you are convicted of the charges. Before you have a sentencing hearing, you should understand some basic points about the types of sentences that can be handed down.

What is a mandatory sentence?

Some criminal convictions have a minimum sentence that a judge must impose if a person is convicted of a particular crime. In this case, the judge can’t use his or her discretion when trying to decide what the appropriate sentence is for the case. Even if the judge thinks that the person doesn’t need the minimum sentence, it must still be imposed on the person.

What is a consecutive sentence?

A consecutive sentence occurs when a person must finish serving the time ordered for one crime before starting the time ordered for another sentence. That means that if you are sentenced to a five-year sentence and a 10-year sentence to be served consecutively, you will have to serve 15 years.

What is a concurrent sentence?

A concurrent sentence means that you will serve all of the sentences you have at the same time. This means that if you are sentenced to a five-year sentence and a 10-year sentence, you will have to serve the 10-year sentence and by the time you finish with that sentence, you will have already served the five-year sentence.

There are other types of sentences possible in criminal cases. It is crucial that you understand what types of sentences are possible in your case. Asking questions about the possible sentencing options can help you to understand what you are facing.

Source: FindLaw, “Types of Sentences,” accessed March 11, 2016