Actually it depeds on the sentencing. From what I can understand when the DA puts in a 25 to life sentence, it means that the CONVICTED felon can expect a sentencing of anything between 25 years and life in prison. Basically 25 to life is usually what they say before the defendant is convicted. After he or she is convicted, the jury can 'advise' the judge as to what the sentence should be. The judge then takes the jury and the DA's sentences into advisement before the judge makes a ruling to how long the convicted person/s should stay in jail. So if the DA requests 25 to life it means that, s/he wants the convicted felon to be in jail for atleast 25 years and at most life in jail. The judge can go ahead and pick some random number like 44 and it will still be ok, but the judge can also pick a lower number if s/he feels that 25 is too much. It's all up to the preception of the judge, the jury, the DA and the defense. Usually convicted felons don't normally serve out their whole term. Usually only about a 1/3 or a 1/4 of their term is served in jail and the rest is what we call parole where they have to go and check in with a shrink and the police every so often. But life in jail usually means that they serve life unless parole is granted where then the convicted felon would serve out the rest of his or her sentence outside jail. But life without parole is usually when the felon cannot appeal for parole but can appeal the decisions. This is my interpretation of the life sentence. I may be right or wrong it really depends on so many factors, good behavior and the such. The death sentence is different because you get sent to prision and then death row, this process is so slow you can rot in prision/death row forever and never actually be killed. Usually inmates on death row die from the atrocious living conditions.