At a recent trial in USA, the accused was found guilty of murdering two people, and was sentenced to spend "the rest of his natural life" in jail for each crime. The sentences are to run consecutively.

I understand the difference between consecutive and concurrent sentences, and that each crime is independently sentenced, but what is the distinction here, when the guilty man will spend the rest of his life in jail anyway?

The accepted answer in the proposed duplicate states that often the law that was broken will specify a concurrent or consecutive sentence. Is that the case for murder?

  • @Jen it does not. I understand how the total sentence can be longer than his life, and that one of the convictions might be overturned, but I can't see the particular point of the distinction when both sentences are whole life terms. Is it because the sentences might both be reduced so that he is freed while he still lives? In this state, the crimes can carry the death penalty, so would that be likely anyway? Mar 3, 2023 at 22:16
  • 1
    @WeatherVane Yes, there is the eventuality that the sentences for both crimes are reduced to a determinate (fixed-length) sentence. Depending on the state, another case would be reduction on appeal to "life with possibility of parole" which would require a minimum sentence (~20-40) be served either consecutively or concurrently.
    – user71659
    Mar 3, 2023 at 22:42
  • Some statutes may specify a sentence is to be served consecutively (e.g. Michigan MCL 750.227b(3)), but generally, the judge has discretion when not otherwise specified.
    – user71659
    Mar 3, 2023 at 22:48


Browse other questions tagged .