The following sentencing vocabulary words are laid out in an attempt to help you understand what some of the nuances of the sentencing process. Each sentencing vocabulary word laid out below may have a different real-world application. However, the purpose here is to define these sentencing vocabulary words so that you understand them in the context of a criminal court.
- Coterminous Sentences: Coterminous sentences are those sentences that run together and terminate at the same time. For example let’s assume Defendant A is sentenced on his burglary case to 15 years DOC. Next assume that he has an armed robbery charge that he resolves with a “coterminous sentence” with the burglary case he is already sentenced to 15 years DOC on. This means that at the end of the Defendant’s 15 year DOC sentence, his armed robbery charge is also done. Both sentences terminated at the same time.
- Concurrent Sentences: Concurrent sentences are similar to coterminous sentences but they are different in one major regard. That is they don’t necessarily terminate at the same time. In the previous example let’s assume that the armed robbery was not a coterminous sentence, but instead a 20 year concurrent sentence. That would mean that while the Defendant is sitting in prison for the first 15 years he is receiving credit for the armed robbery charge. However, after the 15 years are up, he still has 5 years to go on the robbery sentence.
- Consecutive Sentences: Consecutive sentences are those that run on top of the other sentence. In other words, it is an additional sentence. For example, assume Defendant A had 15 years DOC for his Burglary and then got 20 years consecutive DOC for his armed robbery. That would mean that Defendant A would have to do the 15 years first, then he would have another 20 years for the second charge. His sentence is 35 years.
- Withhold of Adjudication versus Adjudication of Guilt: If you are adjudicated guilty, that means you are convicted of said offense. If it’s a felony and it’s your first, an adjudication of guilt means that you are now a convicted felon. A withhold of adjudication means that you are not convicted of the crime you plead to. In other words if someone asks you whether you have ever been convicted of a crime, and you have only withholds on your record, you can say “no I have never been convicted.” A withhold also allows a person to seal and expunge their record in certain scenarios.
The Sentencing Vocabulary laid out here is small in scope and only covers a fraction of what you may expect to hear or see at a sentencing. If you have questions and need to get clarification on sentencing terminology you need to consult with an attorney.