Indeterminate Sentence Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Indeterminate Sentence?

A sentence given by the presiding judge to a convict , which does not have a specific period or a date of release of the convict after serving the sentence. The sentence can be like “10 to 15 years” as a range and not specific. In this the release can be granted earlier then the range on the basis of the term and behaviour of the convict.

History and Meaning of Indeterminate Sentence

An indeterminate sentence is a type of sentence where the judge doesn't set an exact release date or length of time to serve for the convicted person. Instead, it sets a range or minimum and maximum amount of time that the person will serve in prison. The purpose of such a sentence is to provide a framework for rehabilitation, and to give the prisoner a chance to prove they are ready to re-enter society.

The use of indeterminate sentencing dates back to the early 20th century in the United States, when the criminal justice system saw a shift towards rehabilitation rather than punishment. This type of sentence allows for more flexibility in sentencing, and can take into account a convict's behavior and progress towards rehabilitation during their incarceration.

Examples of Indeterminate Sentence

  1. John was sentenced to "5 to 10 years" in prison for his crime. This is an example of an indeterminate sentence because he could be released anytime between 5 and 10 years, depending on his behavior and progress while serving his sentence.

  2. Emma was given an indeterminate sentence of "a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 10 years" for her crime. This allows for the possibility of early release if she shows significant progress in her rehabilitation.

  3. James was convicted of a serious crime and was sentenced to "25 years to life" in prison. This is another example of an indeterminate sentence because the length of his sentence is not fixed and will depend on his behavior while serving his time.

Legal Terms Similar to Indeterminate Sentence

  1. Determinate sentence - a fixed term of imprisonment for a certain period, such as ten years.

  2. Mandatory minimum sentence - a specific sentence that must be imposed for certain crimes, regardless of the circumstances.

  3. Suspended sentence - a sentence where a convict is given a certain period of probation instead of serving time in prison.