Go Directly to Jail; Do Not Pass “Go”

Jail is bad. The food is borderline indigestible, the people are unpleasant, there is no privacy, and there is no freedom. Perhaps worst of all, there are hours upon hours upon hours of idle time.

But in some cases, a brief jail sentence may be preferable to an extended period of probation. For example, twelve months of probation usually means at least twelve mandatory meetings with a probation officer, along with several community service days and some personal enrichment classes. The time spent away from friends, family, and vocation might as well be time sitting in jail.

Moreover, some people are not good candidates for probation. They do not take orders well and are not good at keeping strict schedules.

Time Sentenced v. Time Served

Thirty days in jail is not always thirty days in jail. In fact, in some cases, it could be a lot less.

Assume Tarrant County Sherriff’s deputies arrest “David” for assault. They put him in jail on Friday night. Monday morning, he appears before the judge. At this hearing, David can either enter a plea of guilty or no contest, ask for a bail reduction, or reset the case for a later date.

Next, assume that prosecutors offer David thirty days in jail if he pleads guilty or no contest. At first, David guffaws at the idea. I cannot possibly be away from the free world for a month, he thinks.

But not so fast. County jails are often overcrowded. So, sheriffs sometimes calculate time at a proportion like three for one. That’s three days credit for every day served. On Monday, David already has twelve days credit. He’s served parts of four days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday) and he gets three days credit for each day. So, he only has to serve six more days (eighteen days under the sheriff’s formula). He could be out by the end of the weekend, and he would not have to comply with any conditions.

Sound advice is important here. David may have a defense. Or, the sheriff may not be offering three for one at that time.

Service Options

If the offered jail sentence is slightly longer, or if there is no three for one, other options may be available.

For example, most county jails offer work release programs. Defendants check in at about 7 p.m. and check out the next morning at about 7 a.m. Since they serve a night and a morning, they usually get two days credit for those twelve hours.

Weekend service or house arrest may be available as well.

Jail is unpleasant, but it wraps things up quickly. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. Convenient payment plans are available.