Legal Guides

How long Is A Life Sentence? A Beginners Guide

how long is a life sentence

A life sentence is without any doubt the capital sentence anywhere in this world.  Many countries condemn people convicted of serious offenses to this sentence.  Almost all countries have a way of categorizing their sentences from the highest sentence to the lowest. However, many people know much about a life sentence but do not know exactly how long it lasts. This is exactly why you will find many of them asking how long is a life sentence.  

This debate has been there for quite some time now.  The issue of a life sentence is one that is so complex, varying from one country to the other. A person is behind the bars for what amount of time is a determining factor. 

Therefore, as you ask how long is a life sentence this is one of the things you need to be keeping in mind.  The sentence might vary from one place to the other depending on the rules governing this issue. You will not face a life sentence while you are put behind the bars. You do not need to have this wrong concept. 

However, this is never the case as has been seen in many cases in the past already. Many people assume that a life sentence means spending the rest of their life behind bars.

How Long Is A Life Sentence? 

One of the fundamental questions that people ask more often about the issue of a life sentence is how long is it.  How long is a life sentence many people seek to know about this? You will have a lifetime of prison if you are life-sentenced in the USA. 

In some cases, you might find the term of this sentence being 15 years only. Now, if you know about life sentences and how long they last then you definitely will be surprised by this.  How is a life sentence going to last 15 years only is that not a great contradiction? 

In cases like this one, if anyone receives three life sentences then they may have to spend 45 years in prison. It should be noted that even though parole is allowed in the US, sentences of this kind will require you to spend at least 45 in prison.  Once you are done with this period you can then be allowed to make a parole application.  That is not all, the person hearing your case can decide to grant you the requested parole or not.  In some cases, you might be denied the parole application, something that will force you to spend even more time in prison.  

Life Sentences Might Vary From One Place To The Other 

The issue of life sentences is something that has been there for a while now and raises various questions with it. The issue of 15 years being a life sentence is only applicable in the US beyond that the case is totally different.  Even in the US alone, the issue of life sentences is very distinct and different.  

It depends on a number of factors which include the gravity of the case and the judge hearing the case.  In some cases, the convicts might actually have to spend their entire life behind bars.  For instance, terrorists and rapists are some of the people who might be condemned to a lifetime in prison.  

If you are deemed to be a risk to society then you might also undergo the same treatment.  However, in other ordinary cases of offence to the law, the rules stated above might apply.  However, you need to understand that this is only applicable in the US alone, out of that the case might be different.  

There Are Longer Life Sentences 

There is a difference between a life sentence and being sentenced to prison for a specific period of time.  Even in the USA, there are records of people having been sentenced to prison for a longer period of time.  Some even received punishments that went beyond what many people regard to be a normal prison time for anyone.  

Terrorists being sentenced to 300000 years in prison are some of the most baffling prison sentences in recent years.  Even though this might not sound like a life sentence the chances of you coming out of prison are extremely low. In fact, people convicted and sentenced to such terms never consider coming back.  

Such a sentence in itself might not be a life sentence to the people who ask how long is a life sentence but will see you go to prison for life.  This is one of the greater differences that are there between life sentences and other types of sentences.  

The Life Sentences Might Vary Depending On The Offence 

Before you ask how long is a life sentence you need to first try and determine the offences that make for a life sentence.  Not any other offence can get you locked behind bars for the rest of your life, that is not possible.  Different offences together with their gravity and magnitude attract different levels of offence.  For instance, mass murder might see you go to prison for such a long period of time.  What happens, in this case, is that the amount of time one takes in prison depends on each one of the life sentences they get.  For instance, if a convict kills 20 people, he or she will receive 15 years for each one of the murdered people. 


Knowing how long is a life sentence is something that requires you to do adequate research on the issue.  The length of this term varies from one country to the other which makes it hard to give a conclusive answer to this question.  Therefore, if you or a friend gets such a sentence, it is good to understand that you will be spending all the remaining time of your life behind bars. 

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Sofia Kelly is a passionate blogger. She loves to share her thoughts, ideas and experiences with the world through blogging.

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