Split Sentence Law & Legal Definition


A split sentence is a form of punishment in which the offender serves up to half of his term of imprisonment outside of prison. In such sentences, while the defendant is ordered to spend compulsory time in jail, s/he is not incarcerated for the entire sentence. The court may suspend part of the offender’s sentence and put him/her on probation.

In Richardson v. United States, 927 A.2d 1137, 1140 (D.C. 2007), in defining a "split sentence" the Advisory Commission stated that "[a] split sentence must have these elements: an imposed prison sentence, an imposed period of supervised release, suspension of some, but not all, of the prison time, suspension of all of the supervised release term, and an imposed period of probation, not to exceed 5 years, to follow release from the unsuspended portion of the prison time."