Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C.

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Determinate Versus Indeterminate Sentencing

Under indeterminate sentences, a criminal will serve a range of years as determined by the judge. The minimum time period is usually set by the legislature. After the minimum sentence passes, the case will go before a parole board which sets the actual date of release. Some states have a specific set of criteria the board must follow when making the decision.

Indeterminate sentencing is criticized for allowing too much control to members of the parole board and leading to inequitable results due to the subjectivity. Advocates argue the sentencing provides incentives for prisoners to participate in rehabilitation and allows authorities the opportunity to release an individual to society once rehabilitation occurs.

Under determinate sentencing, the criminal must serve the entire sentence. However, they do have the opportunity to earn “points” which could be applied toward the reduction of incarceration length. Under this sentencing, the date of release remains objective, and there will not be any dramatic change.

Since the 1970s most states have moved from indeterminate sentencing and toward determinate. However, in the past decade, some states are returning back to indeterminate. It is common for states to have a mixture of the sentencing depending upon the type and seriousness of the crime. Convictions such as drugs for which rehabilitation can make a significant improvement are often classified under indeterminate sentencing.

If you or a family member would like more information regarding sentencing options, please contact a San Jose criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C. today by calling (408) 296-4100.

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