Posts Tagged ‘jail credit’


Criminal Blog Week Day 3–Credit for Time Served

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

A common but important issue for criminal defense attorneys to consider at sentencing, whether by plea or after jury verdict, is credit for time the client has spent incarcerated while awaiting sentencing.  Florida law provides that a person is entitled to credit for all time served unless they knowingly and specifically waive it.  However, a number of issues can arise that complicate the issue.  The most straightforward way to deal with complicating circumstances is also the most effective: address them on the record at sentencing, and be armed with a thorough understanding of the law in this area.

In our home jurisdiction of Polk County, Florida, it is fairly common that a client will face numerous criminal charges, but actually only be “booked” in jail (i.e., formally being held in jail) on some of them.  By asking the sentencing judge to remand the client nunc pro tunc on all open charges back to the arrest date, the issue is addressed on the record in the presence of the prosecutor.  When possible, the defense attorney should determine whether the prosecutor objects prior to sentencing, so that proper jail records or other documentation can be prepared if needed.

In Florida, a defendant is not entitled to credit in one county for time served in a different county unless the one county’s case is formally keeping him in jail.  This issue commonly arises when several counties have outstanding warrants, but law enforcement holds a defendant only on local charges without serving out-of-county warrants.  A judge has discretion to grant credit for time served in other counties.  Again, properly preparing the matter ahead of time is usually wise.  Having well-founded documentary evidence of out-of-county incarceration may be the deciding factor for the judge in granting the credit.

Likewise, a judge has discretion to grant credit for time served in another state if the defendant is held for the Florida charge.  In such circumstances, it’s important to be able to demonstrate that the defendant was held on Florida charges.