Sentenced 3 - 10 ... means how long?

3-10 years was Cosby’s sentence, but this question applies to all vague sentences like that.

What does that mean?
How do they know when they have completed sentence and it is time to be released?
Who or what determines, they have completed the time?

I thought 3-10 would be a minimum and maximum that one could be sentenced to, and at sentencing the Judge would give 48 months, or 5 years 3 months, or whatever but an actual defined time period.

As I understand it, he will be eligible for parole after 3 years and, if it is granted, gets out then (subject to the parole guidelines). Even if he never ever is granted parole, he cannot serve a sentence longer than 10 years.

Thats my understanding too. 3 to 10 means you are eligible for parole in 3 years, but can only serve a max of 10 years (on the original charge. If you commit new crimes in prison those get tacked on).

I have no idea how incentives like good behavior play into this (ie could Cosby be eligible for parole in less than 3 years if he is a model prisoner?) Also I’m sure it varies by state vs federal prison since I believe people in federal prison serve a bigger % of their sentences.

This is true for this offense.

However, if he does something while in prison (assault a guard or another prisoner, attempt escape, etc., he can serve more time for those offenses.

That’s probably a moot point with Cosby, but the question was a general one.

Don’t forget another factor : compassionate release. It’s possible that Cosby, at age 81, will develop a health condition serious enough that the prison will release him before he serves even 3 years.