When a person is charged with a crime, they may sit in jail for months- maybe over a year- before the trial and sentencing is over. What happens to the time they spent there? Is it figured into sentencing, or chalked up as “just one of those things”?
Fortunately, it is figured into sentencing. The practice of including that time into sentencing is referred to as jail credit. Or, as they say on tv crime dramas, “time already served.”
Imagine you’ve committed a Class D felony. Your family decided that bail was less important than hiring a knowledgeable attorney, so you’ve been sitting in jail waiting for the justice system to run its course. When your attorney comes to you with a deal, where you agree to plead guilty to a Class E felony, level II, so you’ll fall in the bottom of the mitigated, or low, range for sentencing.
By this point, you’ve been in jail for 14 months. The bottom of the mitigated range for what you’ve pleaded to is 17 to 30 months. You think this looks like a great deal- you’ve already served 14 months, you could be out in 3 months! Or can you? It’s not as simple as that.
With the E felony you’re pleading to, or any felony from E up to B2, there are automatically 9 months removed from the max active sentence to provide for post- release supervision.
Which means the 17 to 30 month range you’re facing is effectively down to 17 to 21 months. Jail credit is taken off both minimum and the maximum remaining sentence. So now subtract your 14 months served from both the minimum (17 months) and maximum (21 months), leaving you facing 3 to 7 months of active time. In theory, this could give you enough time in your first 2 or 3 months to earn a shortened sentence due to good behavior.
What does this all mean? It means take the deal your attorney worked out for you. Since you’ve already spent 14 months in jail, facing 3-7 months with this plea- after counting jail credit- is a much brighter prospect than the D level sentencing you will face without the plea.