A life sentence results when the defendant in a criminal case is sentenced to life imprisonment. A life sentence is also known in some jurisdictions as life-long incarceration or being sentenced to life incarceration.
Under the legal system in the United States of America, a life sentence can only be assigned for serious felonies. Felonies that can result in an individual being sentenced to life imprisonment are murder, high treason, severe or violent cases of drug dealing, human trafficking, or cases of aggravated burglary or robbery that resulted in a death or great bodily harm.
Not every legal system around the world allows a sentence of life imprisonment. The first nation to abolish the opportunity for an individual to be sentenced to life in jail was Portugal, which abolished life sentenced through Penal Reform of Sampaio e Melo in 1884.
Even under legal systems which provide for a suspect to be sentenced to life imprisonment, most jurisdictions provide the opportunities for individuals facing a life sentence to request parole after they have served certain periods of their life sentence. Being released from life imprisonment is usually dependent, or conditional, on previous and future behavior.
An individual facing who has been sentenced to life imprisonment may be given a life sentence with the possibility of parole, although especially heinous crimes may be eligible for life sentence without the possibility of parole.