Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Federal Split Sentence Explained

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A person who is sentenced to prison in the Federal court system may be eligible for a Split Sentence, which involves some time in prison and some time in community confinement or home detention.


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Turning to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, U.S.S.G. § 5C1.1(d)(2) provides that a split sentence is only available when the Defendant is in Zone C of the Federal Sentencing Table, which is to say that the Defendant is facing a minimum sentence of under 12 months, but a maximum sentence of over 12 months.  Those Defendants who fall into Zone A, Zone B, or Zone D are not eligible for a split sentence.

A Defendant in a Federal criminal case who receives a split sentence can serve up to the half of the sentence in home detention or community confinement (e.g. a halfway house).  However, at least half of the sentence must also be served in the Bureau of Prisons.

It is also important to note that the Bureau of Prisons has taken the position that it does not generally have the authority to convert a non-split sentence into a split sentence.


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The benefit of a split sentence can be tremendous to a person who is facing time in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  Obtaining a split sentence requires that the sentencing guidelines and other factors work out in a way that makes the Defendant eligible for a split sentence, both in terms of the sentencing guidelines and the discretion of the court.  As in true in all Federal cases, a person who is hoping to receive a split sentence is well advised to retain an attorney at once, as handing the case properly is critical.


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