How Long is a Life Sentence?

According to Wikipedia, the United States accounts for 40% of the world’s prisoners with life sentences. More than any other country.

In many shows and movies, you must have seen criminals receiving a life sentence.

Have you ever wondered how long is a life sentence?

As the name says, a life sentence means life-long imprisonment. The criminal serving a life sentence is going to spend their whole life in prison till death. 

But that’s not everything about life sentences. In today’s blog, we will review in detail. Here’s everything we will learn today:

  • What is a life sentence?
  • How long is a life sentence?
  • Which countries have life sentences?

So are you ready to know what exactly a life sentence is? Let’s not wait any longer and jump straight to our first topic. Here we go!

What is a Life Sentence?

A life sentence, also known as lifelong, is the heaviest sentence imposed by judges in the US. Of course, not everyone gets life imprisonment.

Only in the case of heinous crimes does this punishment come into the picture. 

Now the question that comes to light is – “who will be imprisoned for life?”

You have to think of someone who has committed one or more murders, led a terrorist organization, or committed a terrorist attack.

In addition, an attack against the government can be a reason to send someone to prison for the rest of their life.

How Long is a Life Sentence?

In the United States, a life sentence typically means an individual serves 15 years in prison with the opportunity for parole.

Currently no is serving life without parole for an offense committed before the age of 18.

A case will be reviewed only if it turns out that there are circumstances that would have allowed the convicted person never to receive the life sentence.

In addition, the sentence decreases if the prisoner’s behavior seems to impress the judge. However, such cases are not frequent. 

Do Other Countries Have Life Sentences?

The US isn’t the only country with life sentences. Many countries across the globe have this punishment in their constitution.

In this section, we are going to talk about all such countries. Here’s the list of some significant countries where life imprisonment is a part of the sentencing system.


A life sentence in Belgium is really life imprisonment. However, every person sentenced to life in Belgium has the possibility to make use of the Lejeune Law.

Under this law, the convicted person can apply for conditional release after serving a sentence for at least 15 years. 

In Belgium, almost every person sentenced to life imprisonment gets a release after such a request or sometimes after making this request multiple times.

If the request is not granted, a person sentenced to life imprisonment in Belgium is often released by pardon or appeal procedure.


In Asia, the duration of a life sentence varies from country to country. But in most countries, this sentence is actually life imprisonment.

So usually, there is no chance of early release, and the convicted person really has to spend the rest of his life behind bars.


In Denmark, a life sentence means that the convicted person is imprisoned indefinitely. However, in practice, these prisoners are always given conditional release over time.


A person sentenced to life imprisonment in Germany must spend at least 15 years in prison. After 15 years, an independent chamber of three judges assesses the situation of the convicted person.

These judges may decide on conditional release. For this, an investigation takes place to check whether this release is justified.


In England, the minimum duration of a life sentence varies from one offense to another.

The more serious the offense that a convicted person has committed, the longer the minimum time that he has to spend in prison. It is up to the judge to determine the time period of detention.


In Estonia, a life sentence means that the convicted person must stay in prison indefinitely. However, the convicted person may be given conditional release after serving a period of at least 30 years from the date of the sentence.

In Estonia, the president also has the power to grant a pardon, but that has never happened.


On paper, the Finnish life sentence is really life imprisonment. In practice, however, the systems grants pardon after about 12 years in almost all cases.


In France, the duration of a life sentence depends on the offense committed by a convicted person.

The prison sentence is really life imprisonment when it comes to infanticide with child rape, torture or barbarism, premeditated murder of persons with a public authority, or murders committed by an organized gang.

For the other offenses, a person sentenced to life imprisonment after 15 years has the option of conditional release.


A life sentence implies a prison sentence for an indefinite period in Ireland. In practice, a person sentenced to life imprisonment in Ireland always gets an early release by appeal, pardon, or conditional release.


In Italy, life imprisonment means a conviction for an uncertain period. However, every person sentenced to life imprisonment has the option of parole only if he has served 26 years or more of his sentence.


A person sentenced to life imprisonment must stay in prison indefinitely in Lithuania. However, after 26 years of detention, there is the possibility of conditional release.

Final Words

This is everything about life sentences and how long it is.

In addition, we have also learned how many countries include life sentences in their sentencing system.

If you found this blog informative, make sure to share it with all your friends and acquaintances who have an interest in learning about law and sentences.

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I have always been a shopaholic. A lot of times my questions went unanswered when it came to retail questions, so I started Talk Radio News. - Caitlyn Johnson

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