Getting Credit for Time Served in Georgia Criminal Cases

A question we often get in Georgia criminal cases is whether a criminal defendant will receive credit for the time he or she has served. This usually comes up when a person is arrested for a crime and has spent time in jail before the resolution of the case. In the cases where the defendant bonds out of jail immediately, credit for time served does not come up.

When a defendant is denied bond or cannot pay the bond amount, they may sometimes spend months and even years locked up before trial, a plea, or a dismissal of the case. What happens to all that time that has built up? The simple answer, under Georgia law, is that such a person gets automatic credit for each and every day spent in confinement toward the sentence they were being confined under.

Under O.C.G.A. 17-10-11, a person is to get credit for each and every day for any “pre-trial confinement, for any reason, since the date of arrest, for the offense which is the subject of the sentence; and post-trial confinement awaiting the remitter from an appellate court or transfer to the Department of Corrections or other court ordered institution or facility.”

Exceptions to the Rule

It is important to note that under this particular code section, time served must be given automatically and the judge or prosecutor has no discretion to take it away from the accused. There are instances, however, when credit for time served is not given automatically and it is left to the judge’s discretion, meaning the judge may choose not to give your credit. These instances are listed specifically in O.C.G.A. 17-10-11 and include sentences to a probation detention center, work release program, and for misdemeanor offenses when the time spent in confinement was in a jurisdiction other than that of the sentence.

Another important exception to keep in mind concerns issues with probation. People who are arrested for new crimes while on probation are often arrested separately for a probation violation for committing a new offense. Time spent incarcerated for a probation violation or awaiting a probation revocation hearing may not necessarily be credited to the underlying sentence.

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney

Credit for time served can have a substantial impact on a defendant’s life. It could be the difference between being released at sentencing or going to prison; a fair sentence and an unfair sentence; or freedom or additional confinement. No one wants to spend any more time in confinement than is necessary or required by law. And no one should have to. When dealing with questions of credit for time served, it is important to consult with or hire an attorney who can help you receive credit towards your sentence for every day that you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation.