How long is a life sentence in the UK? – The Sun

CRIMES in the UK carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and is applicable to only the most serious cases.

However, not all life sentences carry the same jail time as it varies on a case by case basis. Here we explain all.

How long is a life sentence in the UK?

Life sentences are dished out to offenders who commit the most heinous crimes, including murder, rape and armed robbery.

Judges decide the minimum number of years a prisoner will serve of their life term on a case-by-case basis.

In many instances, this is a minimum of 15 years without chance of parole.

Unlike whole life orders, inmates have the ability to have their cases reviewed, which ultimately means they could get out of jail.

When is a prisoner eligible for parole?

Offenders who have a fixed term or determinate sentence are likely to be released halfway through their sentence if they are not deemed a risk to the public.

In these cases, a parole board is not involved.

But prisoners who have been given terms of four years or more or who have committed serious or violent crimes must be reviewed before release.

Inmates with life and indeterminate sentences will be contacted three years before their tariff runs out.

The Parole Board then determines whether or not the offender will be granted release – a decision that typically takes six months to be reached.

What is a whole life order?

Prisoners who are sentenced to a whole life order must serve their time without the possibility of parole.

They can only be issued to those who committed their crimes when they were over the age of 21.

Ian Brady, Ian Huntley and Harold Shipman are among the notorious prisoners who have faced this lifetime sentence.

While whole life orders mean that inmates will by kept incarcerated until death, this doesn't happen in every case.

The Home Secretary may grant release in exceptional circumstances, such as if a prisoner is of a great age or in ill health.

In other instances, the Court of Appeal can also over-turn whole life orders.

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