A report was issued in summer 2017 stating that one in every seven state or federal prisoners across the country are involved in a life sentence. California, in 2016, was in a tie with Utah in regards to numbers. In California, you can also see the highest number of juveniles sentenced to life in prison, at over 3,000. So what do you think of when you hear the term ‘life sentence’? Your mind is probably automatically redirected to those who commit crimes of murder or rape, the most violent crimes. However, the reason why so many Californians are serving life sentences for crimes is because there are many enhancements attached to crimes, making them eligible for life sentences.

However, research also shows that out of 2,200 of the inmates who have been serving life sentences in California over the past few years, have been paroled within five years. What does this mean? This shows that ‘life’ doesn’t actually mean ‘for life’ in the criminal justice system. In just 2009 alone, an astounding 221 lifers were released from prison or parole, forever changing the way that Californian’s see “life in prison.”

What Could Lead to a “Life” Sentence? 

Regardless of the chance for parole, many people in California continue to receive life in prison for their serious crimes. What are some of the crimes that can lead to these sentences? Typically, they are reserved for the offenders who have inflicted great harm on others or are considered to be dangerous within society.

If you have been charged with murder on any level, from aggravated murder to felony murder, you will typically see life in prison. These crimes occur when a defendant took the time to plot and plan their crime before committing it, which leads to intent and severe consequences. The same can be said in murder cases where there was no intent, because the offender was exceptionally brutal in their killing and used a weapon to do so.

You may also see life in prison for such crimes as sexual battery and rape where people’s lives are risked and forever changed, high treason during war time, and other extremely violent situations like kidnapping, human trafficking, or drug trafficking, depending on the circumstances. If you are a leader of a gang or have repeatedly committed the same crime again and again, a life sentence could be imposed. Because it can be difficult to assess whether or not you could receive a life sentence for your crime, you should always let an experienced defense attorney handle your case. Call us today for more.