A Sentence of Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole

California, a state that is often considered a liberal haven, unfortunately, also grapples with a darker side – a high crime rate with even higher legal consequences. In certain egregious cases, the state's justice system can impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. This article details the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole and the crimes in California that can lead to such a severe punishment.

Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole Explained

The sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole means just that: the individual is sentenced to serve the remainder of his or her natural life in prison. It differs from the death penalty because the person will not be executed; rather, they will be forced to serve their prison sentence for the rest of their life without ever becoming eligible for parole or early release.

Eligible Crimes

Because life in prison without the possibility of parole is such a severe punishment, there are only a handful of circumstances in which this sentence may be lawfully imposed by the sentencing court.

First-Degree Murder and Special Circumstances: The most common crime for which a person may be exposed to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole is first-degree murder combined with special circumstances. “Special circumstances” encompass specific factors that make the crime particularly abhorrent, such as committing murder for financial gain, multiple murders, the killing of a law enforcement officer, or a crime committed during the commission of another serious felony. The aim of this sentence is to deter people from committing murder that are especially heinous, however whether deterrence actually serves its function is certainly up for debate.

Treason: Although incredibly rare, treason remains one of the most serious offenses under California law. Those who conspire or wage war against the state can face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Aggravated Sexual Assault: When certain sexual offenses involves extreme violence, multiple victims, or the victim is a child, the court may impose a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child: Someone convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child, which involves committing sexual acts with a minor over an extended period, causing severe emotional and psychological damage to the victim, can be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Kidnapping with Aggravating Factors: In cases where kidnapping involves serious bodily harm, sexual assault, or the kidnapping of a minor, the court may choose to impose a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

A sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole is the harshest sentence a criminal defendant can receive, only second to the death penalty. The defendant’s life and freedom are on the line when facing an offense that carries this possible punishment.

If you have been charged with an offense that could end up with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, it is absolutely critical that you discuss your case immediately with a knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Michael Kraut has extensive experience defending people who are facing severe consequences, and is expert in negotiating lighter sentences for clients.

For more information about the criminal justice process, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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