Attorney Ben Schwartz explains how someone can be given a life sentence plus 100 years.

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz.

Today we are going to take a viewer question from Charlie in New Castle, Delaware. Charlie wrote in and said, “In a criminal case, why would a court sentence someone life plus 100 years? What does that mean? Does that mean they have to stay in jail 100 years after they die?”

The answer to that question is, I have seen that too. Not necessarily in Delaware, but in other states. I have seen news reports of people being sentenced to life plus “X” number of years, life plus 100 years, life plus 50 years, what have you. I think the reason you see that is because in many states a life term in a criminal case does not necessarily mean “life.” Sometimes when someone is sentenced to a life term it may presumptively mean 25 years or it may mean 25 years to life or something like that. The parole board may get a hold of the case after 25 years and have the opportunity to release that person from that life sentence of imprisonment. I think that giving someone life plus 100 years, life plus 50 years, or what have you, what the judge is doing is saying is that these sentences have to run one after the other, that is called consecutive. The sentences have to run consecutive even if a parole board were to say, “We are going to give you parole on the life sentence,” or even if the life sentence really means 25 years, there is a secondary sentence that has to run behind it to make sure that person never gets out of jail.

That is basically what my understanding of what life plus “X” number of years means. I really appreciate the question, Charlie. If you are watching this video and you have a question for me about the law, criminal lawpersonal injury law, anything like that, or trial work, jury trial work, please send me an email.
I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz, thanks for watching!