What is the difference between a consecutive and a concurrent sentence?

If you are convicted of two or more crimes, either by pleading guilty or being found guilty after a trial, the court has the option of requiring you to serve the terms of imprisonment on each charge concurrently (at the same time), or consecutively (one after the other).  Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-21.

For example:  You decide one day to go down the street breaking into houses and stealing whatever you can find.  You get caught, and are charged with three different counts of burglary of a dwelling, under § 91-17-23 of the Mississippi Code Annotated.  Each of those different counts carries a punishment of between 3 and 25 years in the penitentiary.  For this example, let’s pretend that you didn’t hire a good lawyer, and you are convicted of all three counts, and the judge sentences you to the maximum 25 years for each count.  At this point, the judge can order that the sentences run consecutively, in which case you will be sentenced to a total of 75 years, or the judge can order the sentences to run concurrently, in which case they will all run at the same time, and you will serve 25 years. 

Concurrently is better, yes?  Your lawyer must make sure that the judge puts this in the sentencing order specifically, because Mississippi courts have held that the absence of language in a sentencing order affirmatively indicating that sentences will run concurrently means that sentences will run consecutively.

The laws of sentencing in Mississippi require that if you are sentenced for a felony committed while on parole, probation, earned-release supervision, post-release supervision, or a suspended sentence, then there is no discretion by the Court, and any imprisonment you receive for the new felony will commence after you serve any revocation time for the preceding felony.

The sentencing laws are different in federal court, and all of this becomes incredibly complex if you have both federal and state charges at the same time.  It pays to have an experienced criminal lawyer work through these scenarios with you and keep you aware of all the possibilities.  If you need help with a sentencing issue give me a call at 601-991-1099 or email me at clarence@guthriefirm.com.