What to Know About Credit Served in Jail

Posted On May 30, 2023 Arizona Laws,Criminal Defense Written by John Allen Phebus

If you get caught up in the Arizona criminal justice system, you could be waiting a significant amount of time for your court date to arrive. During this time, you may have to spend days or weeks detained in jail. In Arizona, there are rules regarding custody credits. Understanding these rules is important for knowing how much time you may have to spend behind bars after sentencing.

What Is Credit for Time Served?

Credit for time served refers to the number of hours that will be applied, or credited, to an individual’s sentence if he or she must serve time in jail or prison for time already spent behind bars for the same criminal matter. Sentencing credits in Arizona can reduce a criminal defendant’s sentence based on time already spent in custody prior to a conviction or sentencing, or by earning credits for good behavior. Upon conviction and sentencing, any credits accumulated will be deducted from the defendant’s sentence.

In the past, courts did not take pre-conviction jail time into account when sentencing convicted individuals, as they kept pre-conviction and post-conviction jail time separate. However, today, that has changed in most states under modern rules. These rules make it more fair to individuals who cannot afford bail, as they will not be penalized for this with additional jail time compared to their peers who could post bail and await trial out of jail.

Arizona Revised Statutes Section 41-1604.07 states that a prisoner who is in the “eligible earned released credit class” shall be allowed to earn credits toward his or her sentence. According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, release credits can allow an inmate to reduce his or her period of incarceration based on behavior, program or work record, institutional adjustment, earned incentives, and other foundations according to the sentencing statute under which the person was convicted.

How Are Credits Calculated in Arizona?

According to state law, earned release credits are given to qualifying individuals in different proportions based on the type of conviction. Credits are expressed in days. Currently, Arizona State law gives credits at a rate of three days for every seven days served for those incarcerated for most drug-related charges, as long as the defendant has completed a drug treatment program and has not previously been convicted of a violent or aggravated felony. For most other charges, credits are given at a rate of one day for every six days served.

Credits can be earned in jail and prison, but may also be earned in a juvenile camp, work furlough facility, rehab center or halfway house, or other such facilities. If a prisoner fails to adhere to the rules of the department or does not demonstrate a continual willingness to participate in treatment, work, educational or training programs, the director has the power to forfeit all credits earned by the prisoner. At the discretion of the director, forfeited credits can also be restored in the future for good behavior. The director is responsible for maintaining a record of all release credits earned by a prisoner.

How a Scottsdale Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Credit for time served is a complex area of law in Arizona that could have a significant impact on your future. It is advisable to seek the guidance and services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Scottsdale prior to making any decisions on your case in this regard. At the Law Offices of John Phebus, we can help you understand how credit for time served in jail works under Arizona law and how this rule may apply to your specific situation. Credits you’ve earned could shorten the amount of time you must spend behind bars post-conviction. We can also help ensure that your sentencing credits are properly recorded and applied according to state law.