If you get 8 years for a crime and you did 16 months already in the county jail, how is the sentence affected (including any impact on the "good time" reduction which is capped at 33 percent in some states)?

  • The law is different from one U.S. state to another and is different again in the federal system. There is not one consistent rule that applies nationally.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 23 at 8:11

3 Answers 3


Time in custody before sentencing for one of the crimes involved is normally transferred directly 1:1 to prison time served. So someone who is in custody for 312 days before being sentenced to 5 years of prison will serve 5 years but be released 312 days early.

There is a lot of exceptions and additional rules about time spent in foreign custody (for example while extradition was decided), time spent in prison for the same crime in another country, time spent in prison because of a different crime that wasn't included in the sentencing and so forth, but for the normal case of "person is in jail until the sentencing for one trial", it is simply 1:1.

  • Similarly in UK. Broadly, jail time spend on remand is considered part of the time served, but there are variations. Commented Mar 23 at 20:45

Almost every offender who spends time in custody before their sentencing is given credit at a rate of 1.5:1 under s. 719(3.1) of the Criminal Code. However, judges retain discretion to only award credit at a 1:1 rate — e.g. if an offender intentionally delayed the trial process. See generally R. v. Summers, 2014 SCC 26.

Traditionally, the enhanced credit was partly in recognition of the generally harsher conditions in remand centers, and it continues to be justified by the fact that pre-sentence detention does not count towards parole eligibility, earned remission, or statutory release. It is not a "reward."

So 16 months spent in custody prior to sentencing will almost always be counted as 24 months towards the 8-year sentence, leaving 6 years to serve after sentencing.

Once in custody:

  • if in provincial custody, an offender earns 15 days remission for every month served;
  • if in federal custody, an offender is eligible for statutory release after having served two-thirds of their sentence.

Again: time spent in custody prior to sentencing does not count towards the above paths to early release, so this is why pre-sentencing custody is normally given enhanced credit.

  • Doesn't that lead to fighting legal battles as (needlessly) long as the offender possibly can? When they get rewarded for being in custody before the sentencing, compared to after the sentencing?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Mar 23 at 6:39

federal system makes credit for time served compulsory

18 USC 3585

A defendant shall be given credit toward the service of a term of imprisonment for any time he has spent in official detention prior to the date the sentence commences—
(1) as a result of the offense for which the sentence was imposed; or
(2) as a result of any other charge for which the defendant was arrested after the commission of the offense for which the sentence was imposed; that has not been credited against another sentence.

as well

Code of criminal procedure 769.11b

Whenever any person is hereafter convicted of any crime within this state and has served any time in jail prior to sentencing because of being denied or unable to furnish bond for the offense of which he is convicted, the trial court in imposing sentence shall specifically grant credit against the sentence for such time served in jail prior to sentencing.

However, the Michigan supreme court ruled that many exceptions exist to that rule, for example, contrary to the federal system, time served for unrelated offenses can not count as credit for time served

Revised Statutes of Missouri Title XXXVIII 558.031 as of 2023 (the previous regulations were a lot more restrictive in their applications of credit for time served)

Such person shall receive credit toward the service of a sentence of imprisonment for all time in prison, jail or custody after the offense occurred and before the commencement of the sentence, when the time in custody was related to that offense.

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