Back Time Credit in Texas

If you have spent any time in jail you want that period of time to count towards any future sentence. In Texas, we call the days spent in jail before sentencing “back time”, and if you are convicted and sentenced to jail time or prison in a case, we award “back time credit” which counts towards your sentence.

What is the law on back time credit?

A defendant is given credit on his sentence for the time that he has spent in jail for the case from the time of his arrest and confinement until his sentence by the trial court. See CRIM. PROC. art. 42.03 § 2(a)(1).

Many defendants get arrested and make bail in a few days, or some in a few hours. You should get credit for that time if you are sentenced to jail. If you are already in jail, and a new warrant appears for a case, you should get credit for the new warrant and the time you spend after the warrant is issued.

It’s a better practice to calculate back time before you plead guilty. But in some courts the judge will just announce “credit for any time already served” or “credit for back time” and the number will be put in the judgment later. In Kaufman County the District Attorney’s staff will generate with the back time number because they prepare the judgment. This is a common practice in North Texas.

If you are worried about back time credit you should ask your lawyer before you plead how many days you have. If you get a probation sentence, it’s not as important, since you aren’t getting a jail sentence you aren’t serving time unless you mess probation. If you get revoked on probation you aren’t getting back time credit in most counties either.

What if you don’t get back time credit? If you have not waived your right to appeal then you can file an appeal and ask the appellate court to correct the judgment. If the appellate court agrees they can remand the issue to the trial court to determine your back time credits and reform the judgment, as per Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 42.03, section 2(a)(1). See Largher v. State, No. 05-14-00440-CR, 2015 WL 6781933, at *4 (Tex. App.—Dallas Nov. 6, 2015, no pet.) (mem. op., not designated for publication) (citing Asberry v. State, 813 S.W.2d 526, 529 (Tex. App—Dallas 1991, pet. ref’d)).

Back time credit isn’t the most exciting issue, but it’s one that impacts a lot of defendants.

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