Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of sentence


  1. The punishment given to a person who has been convicted (i.e. found to be guilty) of a crime. It may be time in jail, community service or a period of probation.

Definition of sentence


    < Middle English < Old French < Latin sententia ("way of thinking, opinion, sentiment"), for *sentientia < sentiens, ppr. of sentire ("to feel, think"); see sentient, sense, scent.


  • IPA: /ˈsɛntəns/, SAMPA: /"sEnt@ns/
  • Audio (US) [?]
  • Hyphenation: sen‧tence


sentence (plural sentences)

  1. (grammar) A grammatically complete series of words consisting of a subject and predicate, even if one or the other is implied, and typically beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full stop.

    The children were made to construct sentences consisting of nouns and verbs from the list on the chalkboard.

  2. The decision of a jury; a verdict.

    The jury returned a sentence of guilt in the first charge, but innocence in the second.

  3. An unfavorable sentence(2): a conviction.

    The prisoner was scheduled for execution as all appeals of his sentence had been denied.

  4. The punishment imposed on a person convicted of a crime.

    The judge declared a sentence of death by hanging for the infamous cattle rustler.

  5. (computing theory) Any of the set of strings that can be generated by a given formal grammar.
  6. (logic) A formula with no free variables.



  • (logic): formula

Related terms

  • sentential


to sentence (third-person singular simple present sentences, present participle sentencing, simple past and past participle sentenced)

  1. To declare a sentence on a convicted person.

    The judge sentenced the embezzler to ten years in prison, along with a hefty fine.

Further reading

In law, a sentence forms the final act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to his function. The sentence generally involves a decree of imprisonment, a fine and/or other punishments against a defendant convicted of a crime. Those imprisoned for multiple crimes, will serve a consecutive sentence (in which the period of imprisonment equals the sum of all the sentences), a concurrent sentence (in which the period of imprisonment equals the length of the longest sentence), or somewhere in between, sometimes subject to a cap. If a sentence gets reduced to a less harsh punishment, then the sentence is said to have been "mitigated". Rarely (depending on circumstances) murder charges are "mitigated" and reduced to manslaughter charges. However, in certain legal systems, a defendant may be punished beyond the terms of the sentence, e.g. social stigma, loss of governmental benefits, or collectively, the collateral consequences of criminal charges.


The first use of this word with this meaning was in Roman law, where it indicated the opinion of a jurist on a given question, expressed in written or in oral responsa. It was also the opinion of senators (that was translated into the senatus consultus). It finally was also the decision of the judging organ (both in civil and in penal trials), as well as the decision of the Arbiters (in arbitration).

In modern Latin systems the sentence is mainly the final act of any procedure in which a judge, or more generally an organ is called to express his evaluation, therefore it


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

Translation of sentence in Malay



grammatically complete series of words consisting of a subject and predicate

  1. ayat

punishment imposed on a person convicted of a crime

  1. hukuman


1.     lex fori
2.     landed property
3.     lex situs
4.     respondent
5.     default judgment
6.     tort law
7.     living will
8.     lex causae
9.     law
10.     salacious