Jail Credit Law

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Is a Jail Credit?

A defendant can receive jail credit for time spent in confinement for their crimes. The sentence consists of any time spent in any state or local correctional institution due to the criminal charge. Jail credits are awarded for any time spent in these facilities and if they meet the requirements of receiving the jail credits. The defendant could file a petition to allow credit if credit is not granted.

The court judge decides whether or not to grant the jail credit for the defendant based on the local laws. Jail credit is subtracted from both the minimum and maximum sentence. This is based on the local state statutes. For instance, if you have a 6–17 month sentence and you have served two months of it in jail, then you have a 4–15 month sentence remaining to serve. Therefore, you are now two months closer to both benchmarks by your pretrial credit, and they are both reduced.

There are different methods to count the days for jail credit purposes. Most people count the days of credit by counting the first day of pretrial confinement and excluding the day of sentencing. The first day of the sentence is considered part of the jail credit. There are ways to commute the days using technology and counting the days accurately for sentencing purposes.

Usually, jail credit is incident-based, not necessarily charge-based. With the recent changes in legislation, a defendant must receive credit for all confinement. The revised statute mandates that jail credit must be provided even when the person is convicted of a different charge that is not a lesser included offense, so long as the charge and conviction are part of the same incident.

A defendant does not receive jail credit toward a new charge when they are already serving time on another sentence. An individual arrested on an alleged probation violation and awaiting a violation hearing is not considered serving a sentence.

Furthermore, below are some factors to examine the calculation of release dates. The amount of time mandated to satisfy a sentence depends on several variables. Each case is specific, and release dates must be calculated based on individual factors for that jurisdiction. The following are some examples of what is needed for calculating the release dates:

  • Amount of time spent in jail for previous offenses;
  • Type of sentence;
  • The total sentence imposed;
  • The different degrees and classes of the sentences;
  • Any disciplinary offenses received throughout incarceration and;
  • Other events that may impact the time calculation.

What Does a Person Receive Jail Credit For?

A person obtains jail credit for any time spent in any state or local correctional, mental, or other institution. Below is a brief description of the ways that the individual can receive jail credit:

  • Pretrial confinement and time spent in confinement awaiting a probation violation hearing;
  • The active portion of a split sentence;
  • If the defendant was hospitalized to determine competency to stand trial;
  • Time spent in confinement in another state; and
  • Time spent imprisoned for contempt.

What Is the Difference Between Indeterminate and Determinate Sentences?

There are two categories of sentencing. An indeterminate sentence is when there is an established minimum period of imprisonment and maximum term of imprisonment. Once inmates finish the minimum period of confinement, they are eligible to come in front of the Board of Parole for discretionary release consideration. If the Parole Board awards parole, the incarcerated individual will be required to do supervised community service until the completion of their sentence.

A determinate sentence can be referred to as a “flat” sentence. The sentencing court authorized a maximum term of incarceration in whole or half years. Furthermore, the Board of Parole has no discretionary authority about release on a determinate sentence. An incarcerated individual is released by operation of law and is mandated to serve a period of post-release supervision.

Some states also have other programs for inmates. For instance, there is a Temporary Release Program in which eligible and approved participants are granted the privilege of leaving correctional facilities to take part in:

  • Work release;
  • Daily reporting;
  • Substance abuse treatment;
  • Educational release;
  • Industrial training leave;
  • Community service leave and;
  • Leave of absence.

There is a Temporary Release Committee (TRC) composed of personnel responsible for determining which incarcerated individuals will be recommended for participation in the program. If approved, the participant will be supervised by a Parole Officer in the community setting.

What Is the General Process for Obtaining Jail Credit?

Seeking jail credit lawyers through LegalMatch.com can assist you in developing your case. You need to research and collect documents for your case. The documents must contain data showing the out-of-state and in-state county jail time.

Next, you need to calculate the county jail time. Based on your documentation, you can seek further assistance to obtain accurate information for these calculations. Remember, you need to calculate the time spent in the county jail before and after sentencing.

Lastly, you would need to file the case with the local court. It would be a post-conviction motion to file with the help of a jail credit attorney. You need to provide where you were sentenced, as mentioned earlier, and request the judge to grant you credit for the time you served.

What Happened to Jail Credits During and Post COVID-19?

Inmates in prison can earn time off their sentences. Jurisdictions grant time jail credits to incarcerated persons to shorten the time required to serve before becoming eligible for parole or completing their sentences altogether. Each state has different systems and programs in place for it. Some are mentioned above to give you an indication of what to expect within these programs.

According to the Prison Policy Organization’s research, New York offers a six-month credit for completing the GED. Other states have a good time program that offers credits for certain educational programs and attainments. However, once the nation got struck by the pandemic, this all changed. None of these sorts of programs were being offered consistently during the pandemic, creating fewer options for incarcerated individuals to reduce their sentences while in prison during COVID-19.

During the pandemic, inmates had to follow harsher rules and adhere to entire lockdowns. Prisoners can often earn time off their sentences by complying with the prison rules. However, this was almost impossible to achieve due to the changed rules. Even though the inmates were following the rules, they did not receive the jail credits.

Therefore, states after the pandemic were in a bind due to the crowded prisons across the country. Rather than holding people back from accruing jail credits during the pandemic, states should give out more. This would essentially prevent overcrowding of the prisons and create a backlog in the system. Some states have addressed these issues after the pandemic and are working to prevent overcrowding.

When Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer?

Jail credits are a part of the criminal justice system that allows well-behaved inmates to earn time back spent in confinement for their crimes.

Each jurisdiction varies on what can constitute jail credit and when. If you are having issues with jail credit-related problems, you can contact a local criminal lawyer to assist you further. Acknowledging good behavior within prisons is important to encourage them to learn from their mistakes and avoid prison.


16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer