The movie mogul was found guilty of rape and two other sexual misconduct charges involving a woman known as Jane Doe One, after a trial in December.
The woman said the incident happened after Weinstein appeared uninvited at her hotel room during a Los Angeles film festival in 2013.
Just before his sentencing, Weinstein begged judge Lisa Lench for “mercy”, telling her that he “didn’t deserve” to spend life behind bars, and adding that the allegations against him had been a “set up”.
“Your Honour… I maintain that I am innocent,” he told the packed out court room.
“I never raped or sexually assaulted Jane Doe One. I don’t know that woman and she doesn’t know me.”
He continued: “This is a made-up story. With all due respect, Jane Doe One is an actress… Jane Doe One can turn on the tears.”
“Please don’t sentence me to life in prison, I don’t deserve it. I beg your mercy”.
The former producer, 70, was wheeled into court wearing a grey Los Angeles County jail uniform and remained seated as he addressed the court.
During the two-month trial, which began in October last year, the court heard how Weinstein had used his influence to organise private meetings with women, where he attacked them.
He previously pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of rape and sexual assault involving a total of five women in Los Angeles.
After the December trial, the jury was unable to reach a decision on several counts, notably on charges involving Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the wife of California governor Gavin Newsom.
The jury was also unable to reach verdicts on the allegations of another woman. A mistrial was declared on those counts.
Weinstein was acquitted of a sexual battery allegation made by another woman.
The sentencing on Thursday was delayed from January 9, to allow for a motion for a retrial to be put forward by Weinstein’s lawyers.
Judge Lench dismissed the motion, following arguments by his lawyer Alan Jackson, shortly before handing down the sentence, saying: “I respect your position Mr Jackson, but I just disagree with it.”
The former film producer is already serving a 23-year sentence for a different rape and sexual assault conviction in New York, which is under appeal.