What is the Difference Between a Life Sentence and a Natural Life Sentence in Arizona?

Many people get confused when distinguishing a life sentence from a natural life sentence, as they sound extremely similar. Countless people think that they mean the same thing. However, that is not the case; there is a big difference between the two prison sentences.

The Difference? The Possibility for Parole

When a defendant is sentenced to life in prison, they will be eligible for parole after they have served 25 years behind bars.

On the other hand, an offender who is given a natural life prison sentence will live the rest of their life in a jail cell, until the day that they die.

Do You Need Help with Criminal Charges in Arizona?

These sentences are very harsh and are normally reserved for Arizona offenders who have committed serious and often violent crimes.

If you are facing charges for a serious crime in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Tucson, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Peoria, Glendale, or another city in Arizona, the criminal defense team at JacksonWhite can work to ensure that you avoid such severe sentencing.

Schedule a free consultation with experienced criminal lawyer, Jeremy Geigle by calling (480) 467-4370.

3 Responses to “What is the Difference Between a Life Sentence and a Natural Life Sentence in Arizona?”

  1. I’ve been following the Jodi Arias trial. In one of the sites covering this trial I was informed that if one gets “life” (not “natural life”), that person is NOT eligible for “parole” after 25 years. That person would be eligible for executive (governor) clemency. But that would be thonly way the person could be freed. A person convicted for first degree murder is NOT eligible for parole. So, is your opinion somewhat confusing?

    • Mr. O’Neill,

      Thank you for your comment. This topic can be somewhat confusing. Before a first-degree murder trial begins, the prosecutor must file a request to deem the case a capital case if they want the possibility of the defendant receiving the death penalty. After the offender is convicted of first-degree murder, the state must prove aggravating factors and the case will proceed to the penalty phase where a jury will determine whether or not the offender will receive the death penalty. If the jury does not find that the death penalty is appropriate, a judge will rule whether or not the offender will serve life or life without parole. If the judge sentences the defendant to life and the victim was 15-years-old or older, the defendant may be eligible for parole after serving 25 years, but if the victim was under the age of 15 or an unborn child, the defendant may be eligible for parole after serving 35 years.

      I hope that clears things up a bit. Thank you again,
      JacksonWhite Client Services

  2. Approximately how many inmates incarcerated under a Life Without Parole sentence over the past 25 years have had their sentence commuted to straight life or less and then been released from prison? Is the public notified when those Life Without sentences are commuted or are they simply left to believe the criminal is still going to die of old age in prison?

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