Sentencing of an accused person by justice system



Introduction. 1

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Determinate sentencing. 1

Indeterminate. 2

Mandatory. 3

Conclusion. 3




Sentencing involves the provision of a verdict for accused persons who are facing trial. When an individual is served to appear in court, they are required to equip themselves with a lawyer. The accused is thus supposed to provide a defense so as to argue their case with the help of the lawyer. The court is then required to use all the facts to determine whether the accused is guilty or innocent. Some accused individuals do not undergo the sentencing procedure due to a turn of events in the case. The ones who choose to continue with the case stand to face one of the three sentences provided in the criminal justice system. The three main types of sentencing in the United States are determinate, indeterminate and mandatory (Greene & Heilbrun, 2011).

The focus of this paper is to provide an analysis of the three types of sentencing provided in the criminal justice system. This will be done by comparing and contrasting the three types of sentencing. The paper will finally provide a conclusion summarizing the content of the entire paper.

Determinate sentencing

Determinant sentencing can be described as the use of sentencing guidelines during the sentencing process. Introduced during the 1980s, the system is used routinely in the courts of the United States. These laws are provided for specific crimes that have proved to be harmful to the safety of members of the society. The laws under this category are not negotiable due to the intensity of the crimes that are committed. Crimes that fall under this category are drug peddling, armed robbery and repeat offences (Siegel, 2010).

One of the well-known policies that apply to the determinate sentencing is the “three strikes and you’re out” policy. This law was introduced in the 90s when crime the levels had reached its peak. This law applies to offenders who are caught with more than three offences. For this law to be effective, some states increased the number of years.People who default this law in the state of California stand to face up to 25 years or more in jail. It is thus essential for individuals to maintain a clean record so that they cannot be placed in this category (Spohn, 2009).


Indeterminate sentencing is derived from philosophical backgrounds that focus on the behavioral changes of an offender. This type of sentencing aims at correcting the behavior and attitude of the offender by providing rehabilitation. This type of sentencing is controversial in that the main aim is to acquire a change in an individual’s behavior. A convict can take a short period to change their behavior vice versa.  This means that an offender can improve their conduct in the correctional facility with the aim of being released. This creates an easy outlet for criminals in that they can fake their rehabilitation for a quick release. The law has also been questioned for the lack of justice involved in the philosophy. People who have committed serious offences may get off easy due to their change in conduct. This leaves the people who suffered as a result of their offence searching for justice. Indeterminate sentencing involves providing sentences that offer rehabilitation and correctional training. This is aimed at shaping the character of the offender so that they can be respectable members of the community. This process is known as positive reinforcement in that it involves the application of a positive situation so as to yield positive results (Siegel, 2010).


Mandatory sentencing is aimed at reducing the discretional powers of the judges. These sentences set a minimum sentence which cannot be overruled by the judge. The cases that fall under this category are drunk driving, armed robbery, and drug peddling. These laws give more power to prosecutors who use this system to determine the charges to file against accused persons. They are mostly used by politicians who intend to pass a no nonsense message to the public. The application of mandatory sentencing has not been as effective in the past due to influence by the circumstances in some trials. Some people prefer settling for plea bargains during the trial process. This can be as a result of collaboration of one of the accused members for a lesser sentence. Some people may alternatively choose to settle a case outside the court so as to eliminate all the bureaucracy that comes with the process (Greene & Heilbrun, 2011).


The criminal justice system is put in place so as to control the rate of crime in the country. For the system to be effective, authorities have put in place laws and regulations that target various crimes and offenders. There are three types of sentencing namely: determinate, indeterminate and mandatory sentencing. These three laws were introduced to curb the rate of crime in the community as a whole. They all apply to different situations making them suit different situations. Their analysis is thus essential so that one cannot be ignorant about the law.



Greene, E., & Heilbrun, K. (2011). Wrightsman’s psychology and the legal system. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Siegel, L. J. (2010). Introduction to criminal justice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Spohn, C. (2009). How do judges decide?: The search for fairness and justice in punishment. Los Angeles: SAGE

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