Crime Sentencing by State

Scott Repasky
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Common Sentences Nationwide

Murder: Life Sentence

Rape: 15-20 years

Kidnapping: 5-25 years

Assault: 3-4 years

Theft: 3-5 years

Drug Trafficking: 5-10 years

DUI : 6-12 months

Most crimes in the United States are punished with a combination of incarceration and fines, although some states and jurisdictions have abolished the distinction between the two. Incarceration sentences are generally served in state prisons. Many states have a similar pattern regarding the length of their prison terms. They soon start off with a small or average term for minor crimes. This increases with more serious offenses, topping out at the maximum for the worst offenses.

Many states make an exception for nonviolent crimes to follow the 60-year average, giving the shortest terms for murder to longest for burglary. The sentences in the state prison are generally followed by parole. A person on parole has restricted liberty under the careful watch of authorities, usually for a number of years. Many times, the parole is revoked for a single offense, such as a new criminal act.

The most severe punishment in the United States is the death penalty, which is permitted in 30 states. Its use is restricted to murders of special importance, usually as part of a mass murder or terrorist attack. Even in these cases, the punishment is usually reserved for the ringleader.

Sentencing Over Time

Throughout history, punishments for crimes have changed from one era to another. In medieval times, for example, punishment came later. The death penalty was used before the crime was actually committed. This turned punishment into a grander spectacle and would attract a lot of attention. Many people were fascinated by torture and execution in the 1500–s and 1600–s. However, in modern times, punishment has changed to fit the accusations.

Most Sentenced Federal Crimes

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released their compiled data on federal offenses sentenced between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2014. The data is compiled from mandatory correctional reports to avoid errors that are commonly made by state statistical systems. The number of state prisoners released in 2014 was 221,300. The Bureau breaks down the sentence by category by sentences administered in large state correctional systems (50,000 inmates or more). The state system is incomplete: more than 1.4 million offenders were released by federal facilities that year.

The possibility of an arrest and prison sentence may leave you so intimidated that you may be tempted to lie or hide information about a crime you or a loved one has committed. Whether you decide to lie to the authorities or tell the truth, it’s a good idea to understand the state prison sentencing guidelines to help you make the best decision.

State prison sentencing guidelines break down the laws that are set forth in your state. This chart displays mandatory minimum (sometimes referred to as the bottom range) and maximum prison sentences based on charges and criminal history. These are the guideline; judges and courts have the right to deviate from these sentences based on details and circumstances of the individual case. Bottom-range and maximum sentences vary from state to state. Laws also vary based on whether the crime was committed as an adult or a juvenile.

LOCATION MANDATORY MINIMUM STATE SENTENCE MAXIMUM STATE SENTENCE Alabama 1st Degree: Life or 99 years. 2nd Degree: 10 to 99 years. 3rd Degree: 2 to 20 years. 1st Degree: 99 years or life. 2nd Degree: 10 to 99 years 3rd Degree: 2 to 20 years. Alaska 3rd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 1st Degree: 5 to 99 years. 2nd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 3rd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 1st Degree: 5 to 99 years.

Sentencing Across the Country

If you are going to be facing a criminal charge, it is important to fully understand the consequences that you have to face. Child support, child custody, fines, and even the length of a prison sentence at the federal and state level varies from state to state, so make sure to google the state you’re living in to determine you’re facing. For example, if you live in Maine, the “maximum [prison] term for most felonies is 30 years. ” Or if you live in California, the “maximum offense sentence is [20 years to life]. ”

These are only a few different states and their vast differences between sentencing for criminal offenses. As you can see the difference between a maximum sentence and a minimum is usually quite different. So take these factors into consideration.

The possibility of an arrest and prison sentence may leave you so intimidated that you may be tempted to lie or hide information about a crime you or a loved one has committed. Whether you decide to lie to the authorities or tell the truth, it’s a good idea to understand the state prison sentencing guidelines to help you make the best decision.

State prison sentencing guidelines break down the laws that are set forth in your state. This chart displays mandatory minimum (sometimes referred to as the bottom range) and maximum prison sentences based on charges and criminal history. These are the guideline; judges and courts have the right to deviate from these sentences based on details and circumstances of the individual case. Bottom-range and maximum sentences vary from state to state. Laws also vary based on whether the crime was committed as an adult or a juvenile.

LOCATION MANDATORY MINIMUM STATE SENTENCE MAXIMUM STATE SENTENCE Alabama 1st Degree: Life or 99 years. 2nd Degree: 10 to 99 years. 3rd Degree: 2 to 20 years. 1st Degree: 99 years or life. 2nd Degree: 10 to 99 years 3rd Degree: 2 to 20 years. Alaska 3rd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 1st Degree: 5 to 99 years. 2nd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 3rd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 1st Degree: 5 to 99 years.

Jail Times, by State

We all know prison time differs from state to state, but there are still some drastic differences between states. Some states have sentence lengths longer than others, and some have shorter times for murder and other crimes.

The average sentence in Alabama for first degree murder is between 20 and 50 years. Arkansas, on the other hand, has a minimum sentence of 16 years and a maximum of 40. Alaska makes first degree murder a maximum of 100 years in prison.

California is known for their more relaxed sentences for murder and is the state with the most liberal statute. The crime carries a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of life. Georgia, on the other hand, has a minimum of 20 years to a maximum of life for first degree murder.

Massachusetts stems right in the middle and carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life.

The average sentence in Kentucky for first degree murder is between 20 and 50 years. Massachusetts and Michigan are both similar with a minimum of 10 years for the crime, and a maximum of life. The violent crime rate in Washington is less than one murder per 100,000 residents. For Kentucky, the rate is 6.7 murders per 100,000 residents.

The possibility of an arrest and prison sentence may leave you so intimidated that you may be tempted to lie or hide information about a crime you or a loved one has committed. Whether you decide to lie to the authorities or tell the truth, it’s a good idea to understand the state prison sentencing guidelines to help you make the best decision.

State prison sentencing guidelines break down the laws that are set forth in your state. This chart displays mandatory minimum (sometimes referred to as the bottom range) and maximum prison sentences based on charges and criminal history. These are the guideline; judges and courts have the right to deviate from these sentences based on details and circumstances of the individual case. Bottom-range and maximum sentences vary from state to state. Laws also vary based on whether the crime was committed as an adult or a juvenile.

LOCATION MANDATORY MINIMUM STATE SENTENCE MAXIMUM STATE SENTENCE Alabama 1st Degree: Life or 99 years. 2nd Degree: 10 to 99 years. 3rd Degree: 2 to 20 years. 1st Degree: 99 years or life. 2nd Degree: 10 to 99 years 3rd Degree: 2 to 20 years. Alaska 3rd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 1st Degree: 5 to 99 years. 2nd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 3rd Degree: 1 to 5 years. 1st Degree: 5 to 99 years.

Prosecution Prevalence

According to a study by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), prosecutors’ decision to charge a defendant with a felony rather than a misdemeanor increased the potential sentence by 50 to 55 months. When defendants received less than the maximum sentence, this came with a 25% sentence reduction. This was based on the comparison of sentences handed down with prosecutors’ charging decisions in mind.

This study also concluded that when prosecutors can choose between charging a misdemeanor or a felony, particularly in felony-determinate sentencing state, prosecutors will choose the lower charge for defendants who they perceive to be less culpable. That’s because prosecutors know that in felony-determinate sentencing states, judges have the discretion to sentence on the misdemeanor level if they feel the accused is not as culpable as the crime suggests.

The study also suggested that prosecutors are using this discretionary power in sentencing because they are overcharging in misdemeanor states to make room for some leniency in sentencing. Despite the fact that judges have the power to sentence defendants to the statutory minimum, prosecutors are still charging him or her with a felony in order to hold as much power as they can in sentencing.