Houston Criminal Law Blog

EXPERIENCED. AGGRESSIVE. HOUSTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW FIRM: The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp

What is a Sentencing Credit?

The need to protect the rights of all individuals is crucial. Incarceration leads to the end of freedom and shatters many lives. It is imperative that individuals protect their rights. An attorney who has a strong background in criminal defense can help ease the burdens of incarceration. When there is a negative impact on a person’s court case, and a defendant is headed to prison, there is one small consolation called sentencing credits. These credits have the power to reduce a defendant’s sentence and return him to his previous life more quickly.

Credits While Incarcerated

Sentencing credits are issued for time served while in custody. These credits work to reduce the amount of time served in jail. Sentencing credits are issued if a defendant has committed a federal crime. This federal rule does not apply to all states, but most states adhere to it. The credit amount is for the time served while in custody before sentencing. The credits only apply to the same crime that the defendant was convicted of.

The Detainer

A defendant who has a federal detainer against him or her may still be entitled to sentencing credits. A state court must hold a defendant for the federal court even when a defendant has served the full sentencing time that was issued by the state court. This action is called a detainer. It allows time to be served on the federal level. When a defendant is held by the state, he is credited the time that he has to serve federally. This sentencing credit only applies if time is served and not if the defendant is free and awaiting sentencing or the start of a trial.

Good Conduct

The federal courts may issue sentencing credits if a defendant:

  • Cooperates with authorities at the prison
  • Refrains from any disruptive or abrasive behavior
  • Earns a high school diploma or other certificate of equivalent status

Some states may issue sentencing credits if a defendant is in a program that is designed to help rehabilitate him or her, such as anger management counseling, therapy for substance abuse or a secondary school curriculum. These credits are earned by an allotment of time. For example, a defendant may receive five credits per thirty hours performed. These credits can also be lost due to misbehavior. This rule may also apply on credits given at sentencing.

Inquiries about sentencing credits or any other legal matters can be answered by getting in touch with The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp at 713-868-6100.

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