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Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison: 5 Things to Know

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on October 21, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

South African Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The double-amputee athlete, known as the "Blade Runner" for his distinctive prosthetic legs, was the first athlete to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic games. After being charged with murder in the 2013 shooting death of Steenkamp, Pistorius was found guilty last month on the lesser charge of culpable homicide. Today, Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison, though he may end up serving the majority of that sentence under house arrest, reports The New York Times.

Here are five things to know about Pistorius' five-year sentence:

  1. What is culpable homicide? Culpable homicide is the South African equivalent to involuntary manslaughter. It involves a homicide committed through negligence without intent.
  2. How long of a prison sentence could Pistorius have faced? Pistorius could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, although prosecutors in this case were seeking a 10-year sentence.
  3. How long will Pistorius actually spend behind bars? Pistorius may be able to serve as little as 10 months in prison before serving the remainder of his sentence under house arrest.
  4. When is Pistorius eligible for parole? After serving half of the sentence, or 30 months, Pistorius can potentially apply for parole, allowing him to return to the community under certain conditions.
  5. Will there be an appeal? Both sides have the ability to appeal the judge's ruling. Although Pistorius and Steenkamp's relatives told reporters they were not planning an appeal, the South African National Prosecuting Authority said it had not decided whether to appeal the sentence.

In addition to the five-year sentence for culpable homicide, Pistorius was also given a three-year suspended sentence for a separate conviction on a firearms charge.

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