Types of Criminal Sentences


Michigan has adopted sentencing guidelines to help judges pronounce fair sentences. However, judges have discretionary authority to depart from Michigan's sentencing guideline range—but only where there are "substantial and compelling" reasons to do so. If you received an unfair sentence, or were sentenced more harshly than is permitted by law, you may have the right to appeal your sentence. It is important that you contact our Michigan sentence appeals lawyers as soon as possible because there is a very short time frame in which you can appeal a sentence.

Types of Sentences That a Defendant can Receive

Concurrent Sentence: Served at the same time as another sentence that was either imposed earlier or at the same proceeding.

Consecutive Sentence (or, Cumulative Sentence): If multiple sentences are meted, a judge can order that they be consecutive. This means time served for one sentence does not count as time served for the next (consecutive) sentence. For example, if a defendant is convicted of several counts, each one constituting a distinct offense or crime, or when a defendant has been convicted of several crimes at the same time, the judge can require the sentences be served one at a time, with the next one beginning only upon completion of the previous sentence.

Deferred Sentence: This means a sentence is set, but the execution of the sentence is postponed.

Final Sentence: When a final sentence is given it puts an end to a criminal case. It is distinguished from an interlocutory or interim sentence.

Fixed Sentence (or, Determinate Sentence): The sentence is set for a fixed period of time, for example, five years in prison. A fixed sentence without a maximum or minimum is referred to as a straight or flat sentence.

Indeterminate Sentence: This type of sentence does not fix a specific period of time, but a general period within a range of "not more than" or "not less than" a certain amount of time. State laws vary, and not all states have legislated indeterminate sentences.

Life Sentence: The convicted person will spend the remainder of their life in prison.

Mandatory Sentence: A mandatory sentence is created by state statute and does not allow the judge any authority to exercise discretion.

Maximum Sentence: The longest period of time a convicted person may be held in custody.

Minimum Sentence: The minimum period of time a convicted person must spend in jail or prison before they are eligible for parole or release.

Presumptive Sentence: This type of sentencing structure is created by statutes in many states, including in Michigan. In Michigan, presumptive guidelines exist for felonies, with appellate review as authorized by state statutes. Michigan also has a restricted parole system. Presumptive sentencing sets a normal range of sentencing for an offense that serves as a baseline or guideline for judges determining sentences. The judge may also factor in aggravating or mitigating circumstances along with the presumptive guidelines.

Suspended Sentence: (1) Withholding or postponing of pronouncing a sentence following a conviction; or (2) postponing of the execution of a sentence after it has been pronounced.

More Information About Sentencing in Michigan