Cumulative Sentence Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Cumulative Sentence, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Cumulative Sentence?

When a criminal who has been convicted of two or more different crimes, instead of sentencing him for both the crimes separately he can be sentenced for both of them jointly and would be asked to serve for the crime with the longer time of imprisonment.

History and Definition of Cumulative Sentence

Cumulative sentence refers to a legal doctrine used in criminal cases where a defendant is convicted of multiple crimes but sentenced to serve only one sentence, which is the sum of all the individual sentences. This approach is typically used to ensure a fair and just punishment without unduly burdening the court system or the defendant.

The idea of cumulative sentences has been around for many years and has evolved over time. In many cases, judges would sentence defendants for each crime separately, resulting in lengthy and complex proceedings. Cumulative sentences were developed as a way to simplify this process and ensure that defendants received a fair and appropriate punishment for all of their crimes.

Examples of Cumulative Sentence

  1. John was convicted of three crimes- theft, fraud, and drug possession. The judge sentenced him to a total of 10 years in prison, with 3 years for theft, 4 years for fraud, and 3 years for drug possession. Instead of serving the sentences separately, John will serve all 10 years as a cumulative sentence.

  2. Lisa was found guilty of two charges - burglary and assault. The judge sentences her to 5 years for burglary and 3 years for assault. Since burglary has a longer jail time, Lisa will serve the 5-year sentence, which will include the sentence for assault as well.

  3. James was charged with multiple crimes, including vandalism, assault and battery, and disturbing the peace. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to a total of 15 years imprisonment.

Legal Terms Similar to Cumulative Sentence

  1. Concurrent sentence: When a judge orders the defendant to serve all of the sentences at the same time.

  2. Consecutive sentence: When a judge orders the defendant to serve each sentence one after the other.

  3. Aggregate sentence: The total jail or prison time given to a defendant for all their convictions, irrespective of the type of sentencing.