There are two types of Life Sentences:
- life without parole (also known as “LWOP”). A person serving this sentence will never be considered for parole and will have to spend the rest of his or her life incarcerated.
- life with the possibility of parole.
The number of years a person serving a life sentence must stay in prison before being considered for parole varies depending on the date of the crime.
- If the crime was committed before January 1, 1995, the person may be considered for parole after serving 7 years.
Approximately 3,000 of these life-sentenced offenders are still in the prison system. More than 1,000 of these offenders have already served 20 or more years on their life sentence.
- If the crime was committed on or after January 1, 1995, the person may be considered for parole after serving 14 years.
EXCEPT If a person is serving a life sentence for drug offenses only (no violent offenses), then he or she is still eligible for parole consideration after serving 7 years.
- If a person receives a life sentence for a serious violent felony committed on or after July 1, 2006, the person may be considered for parole after serving 30 years.
EXCEPT An offender who is serving consecutive life sentences for offenses occurring in the same series of acts, one of these being murder, must serve 60 years, before becoming eligible for parole consideration.
Parole is the provisional release of a prisoner before the completion of the maximum sentence period, provided he agrees to certain conditions.
People who are parole eligible have the right to be considered for parole, but not the right to be granted parole.
A few recent parole trends in Georgia:
On average, those serving life sentences who were released on parole in 2007 served 22 years. This is the greatest amount of time served since statistics were kept (1973).
People who were granted parole served an average of 68% of their sentence. But paroled sex offenders served 95% of their sentences and people convicted of “violent” offenses served 85%.
Starting in the late 1990’s the Georgia Parole Board has sharply curtailed its use of clemency, especially for violent and sex crimes. It thus reduced the number of inmates eligible for parole, and increased the time they must spend in prison.
Mandatory sentences in Georgia
Georgia’s “Seven deadly sins” law was passed in 1995. It meant: automatic sentences for certain crimes regardless of extenuating circumstances.
It mandates, for a first offense, a non-parolable sentence of at least 10 years for kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, and aggravated child molestation.
People sentenced to a term of years for one of these felonies will have to spend 100% of their sentence behind bars.They are not eligible for parole.
The minimum sentence for first offense of murder is life, with no parole eligibility for 25 years. Second offense of any of the “seven deadly sins” (including murder) gets life without possibility of parole.
Georgia’s “Seven Deadly Sins” law, for those seven crimes, is very tough even by US standards. Not three strikes, but two – and the second strike results in life without possibility of parole.
Some other definitions
Any murder committed with the intent to kill is malice murder. Any murder committed with express or implied malice is malice murder.
First, when an offender kills accidentally or without specific intent to kill in the commission of a felony, the offender can be charged with murder.
Second, it makes any participant in such a felony criminally liable for any deaths that occur during or in furtherance of that felony.
Aggravated assault (GA law):
A person commits the offense of aggravated assault when he or she assaults:
- With intent to murder, to rape, or to rob;
- With a deadly weapon or with any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury; or
- A person or persons without legal justification by discharging a firearm from within a motor vehicle toward a person or persons.
A person commits the offense of aggravated battery when he or she maliciously causes bodily harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, or by seriously disfiguring his or her body or a member thereof.
Cruelty to child in the first degree
A person commits the offense of cruelty to children in the first degree means by willfully depriving the child of necessary sustenance to the extent that the child́s health or well-being is jeopardized; or maliciously causimng a child under the age of 18 cruel or excessive physical or mental pain.
A person commits the offense of forgery in the first degree when with intent to defraud he knowingly makes, alters, or possesses any writing in a fictitious name or in such manner that the writing as made or altered purports to have been made by another person, at another time, with different provisions, or by authority of one who did not give such authority and utters or delivers such writing.
A person commits the offense of forgery in the second degree when with the intent to defraud he knowingly makes, alters, or possesses any writing in a fictitious name or in such manner that the writing as made or altered purports to have been made by another person, at another time, with different provisions, or by authority of one who did not give such authority.
Public Intoxication is generally characterized by loud or disruptive behavior or behavior that interferes with other people’s enjoyment of public spaces.