Sentence Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Sentence?

(n) Sentence is the order or verdict of the jury or the judge imposing punishment to the person convicted of a crime, deciding the terms and type of punishment he has to undergo.

History and Meaning of Sentence

A sentence in legal terms refers to the decision of the judge or jury in a criminal case, specifying the punishment to be imposed on the convicted defendant.

The origins of the word "sentence" can be traced back to the Latin word "sententia," which means "meaning" or "opinion." The modern use of the term in legal contexts began to appear in the 14th century.

A sentence can be either a term of imprisonment, a fine, probation, community service, or a combination of any of these. The type of punishment is determined by the severity and nature of the crime, as well as other factors such as the defendant's criminal history and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

Examples of Sentence

  1. The judge imposed a sentence of 10 years in prison for the defendant's conviction of armed robbery.
  2. The jury deliberated for several hours before delivering a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the defendant's conviction of first-degree murder.
  3. The defendant's sentence included a $5,000 fine and 100 hours of community service for his conviction of theft.
  4. After considering the evidence and testimony presented at trial, the judge sentenced the defendant to 3 years of probation for his conviction of drug possession.
  5. The sentence in this case is a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison for the defendant's conviction of a violent crime.

Legal Terms Similar to Sentence

  1. Probation - a period of supervised release granted to a defendant instead of imprisonment.
  2. Parole - early release from prison granted to a defendant who has served a portion of their sentence.
  3. Capital punishment - the imposition of the death penalty as a punishment for certain crimes.
  4. Fines - a monetary penalty imposed on a defendant as a punishment for a crime.
  5. Restitution - payment made by a defendant to a victim to compensate them for damages or losses resulting from the crime committed.