flat timed | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

Flat timed is a term used when a convict serves the entirety of their prison sentence without the option of parole and re-enters society without supervision.

In the world of criminal justice, “Flat Timed” is a commonly used term. It describes a specific kind of prison term. When a convict serves their sentence “flat timed,” they serve the full term without parole. This means they must stay in prison for the complete duration of the sentence the court has given them. Only after serving the entire sentence they can return to the community.

This type of sentence comes with a unique characteristic. After completing their sentence, the convict isn’t under any form of supervision. They can rejoin society as a free person. Once the sentence is over, there are no conditions they have to abide by.

Contrast with Parole and Early Release Sentences

The “flat timed” sentence contrasts with many other types of prison sentences. Many sentences allow convicts the possibility of parole or early release. This is usually based on good behavior or other significant factors.

These sentences are often structured with a minimum and maximum term. Once the convict serves the minimum term, they may be released. But this doesn’t happen automatically. A parole board or similar authority makes this decision.

The parole board bases its decision on various factors. This includes the inmate’s behavior during their prison term. They also look at the convict’s risk of committing another crime once released. The availability of community resources to support their return to society is another significant factor.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Flat Timing

There are advantages and disadvantages to serving a sentence “flat timed”. On one hand, once the convict completes the sentence, they’re free from any supervision. They can start afresh without any conditions. They don’t have to report to a parole officer. They also don’t need to adhere to restrictions that parolees often face.

On the other hand, serving the full sentence can be difficult. The convict doesn’t have the incentive of potential early release. Also, they may face challenges reintegrating into society after release. Without the structure and support of parole supervision, they might struggle with employment, housing, or social relationships.


“Flat timed” is a critical term in the criminal justice system. It refers to a sentence where the convict serves the full term without parole. They also re-enter society without supervision. This type of sentence has its pros and cons. Understanding the implications of “flat timed” sentences can be vital for those involved in the criminal justice system.

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Last Modified: 05/19/2023

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