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Concurrent vs. Consecutive Sentences

Posted By Criminal Law Standard || 12-Nov-2010

    Yesterday, a Denton County jury sentenced drunk driver John Patrick Barton to two (2) life sentences for killing Kandace Hull and her thirteen year-old daughter Autumn Caudle.  Barton plowed into the victims' car at 134 miles per hour last Easter morning.  At the time of the collision, Barton's blood alcohol level was three (3) times the .08 legal limit in Texas.  In addition, Barton received 20 years on each of three counts of intoxicated assault with a vehicle. Nevertheless, Barton is eligible for parole in 30 years. 

    How can a person sentenced to two (2) life terms and three (3)  20-year terms be eligible for probation in only 30 years?  Part of the answer has to do with the difference between concurrent and consecutive sentences.  Mr. Barton was sentenced to serve his sentences concurrently, which means he serve his sentence for each of the five (5) convictions at the same time.  For each year Mr. Barton spends in prison, he receives one year credit toward each of the five (5) sentences.  Had Barton been sentenced to serve his sentences consecutively, he would have had to serve time for each of the convictions one at a time.  This would mean Barton would have to serve 20 years to complete each 20-year sentence (60 years total), and then would have to serve the two (2) life terms.

    Judges impose consecutive sentences for multiple crimes associated with a single criminal event only in rare circumstances.  In Mr. Barton's case, all five of his convictions were the result of a single drunk driving incident.  Therefore, the judge sentenced Barton to serve his sentences concurrently.  Had Mr. Barton's convictions been the result of multiple criminal episodes he may have been sentenced to serve his sentences consecutively. 

    An "Aggravated Offense" is one that involves use of a weapon in the commission of a crime.  In Barton's case the weapon at issue was Barton's car.  A person convicted of an "Aggravated Offense," must serve half the sentence or 30 years (whichever is less) before they become eligible for parole.  This explains why Barton is eligible for parole in 30 years. 

    If you have been charged with multiple offenses, it is important to hire an attorney who knows how to resolve all of those charges at one time.  During his 23 year career as a criminal defense lawyer, Tom D'Amore has handled thousands of criminal cases throughout the Dallas Ft. Worth metroplex. 

    Contact the D'Amore Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation with Dallas criminal attorney Tom D'Amore. 

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