When a person is convicted of a crime, they may face a variety of criminal punishments. The punishments range from a combination or one single punishment such as incarceration, probation, or fines. For instance, a common criminal punishment for a misdemeanor crime is one year in jail time. Another type of criminal punishment is called life without parole.

What is Life without Parole?

Life without parole is defined as a person spending the rest of their life in prison. The criminal sentence does not include an option for parole.  Life without parole is sometimes enforced as a sentence for both adults and juveniles.

Parole allows an individual to leave prison or jail after serving only a portion of their total sentence. The eligibility for parole depends on each state. In the federal prison system, parole is called supervised release. Many factors go into deciding whether a person receives parole, such as:

  • Public safety;
  • Age;
  • Mental stability;
  • Remorse; and
  • Time served.

Is Life Without Parole a Sentence for Misdemeanor Crimes?

Life without parole is generally not given for misdemeanor crimes. Instead, life without parole is a sentence given only for especially dangerous criminal acts such as murder.

Some crimes may be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on jurisdictional rules. These types of differences can also affect sentencing options for those types of crimes.  

Life without parole is often issued for serious offenses such as those involving:

  • Violent crimes;
  • Crimes involving firearms or other weapons;
  • Drug crimes, especially those involving distribution or manufacturing;
  • Theft crimes, especially where the value stolen is for a worth a high amount; and/or
  • Situations where multiple crimes are involved.

Is Life Without Parole the Same as the Death Penalty?

Life without parole is not the same as the death penalty. If a person is given the death penalty, the government puts the person to death for the crime committed.

Life without parole is often given as an alternative to the death penalty. Many groups that are against the death penalty, also called capital punishment, want more criminals sentenced to life without the possibility of parole rather than to death.

Lastly, life without parole is different still from probation. Probation allows a person to avoid a jail or prison sentence entirely in exchange for remaining under court supervision. This supervision refers to reporting to a probation officer and following any other requirements such as regular drug testing.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Crimes Involving Life Without Parole?

Crimes involving the possibility of life in prison without a parole option are very serious. If you are facing a criminal charge that may result in you being sentenced to life without parole, you need to talk to a criminal lawyer about fighting the criminal charge.