Calculating back time is an issue that slows down many a plea bargain. It’s not as simple as just adding up the days you were in jail. There are issues of when the warrant was issued, figuring out all the different jails you may have been in, getting those agencies to respond, and finally giving any “good time” credit the local sheriff may afford. In Kaufman County the District Attorney’s office will calculate the back for us, which is nice. In Dallas you can allegedly use their DHARMA initiative DOS computer (JI 55) to do this, but I avoid those like the plague (or like the MRSA infection that lives on those keyboards).
So if you are sitting in the county jail and looking at a plea bargain for pen time or county time how can you figure out your back time? Not by using this blog post, since I don’t know a single county jail with internet access, but I digress.
First, it depends on what kind of case you are pleading guilty to. Misdemeanor sentences are eligible for good time credit provided by the Sheriff towards any sentence. For example, in Rockwall you get 2 for 1 credit on misdemeanors. So if you get a 30 days sentence for your DWI you are out in 15. Kaufman County is day-for-day, which is nuts and serves no real purpose beyond keeping poor people in jail longer and costing local taxpayers to lock up DWI and POM offenders.
Good time/back time credit also depends on when the warrant was issued, so if you are arrested in Lubbock for DWI after leaving the Blue Light, and you get an motion to revoke (MTR) out of Kaufman County because you are already on DWI probation, then your back time for the Kaufman DWI MTR doesn’t begin until that warrant hits. Which, on a side note, Kaufman County does more “No Bond” misdemeanor MTR warrants than any other county I practice in. What’s up with that?
For felony cases you don’t get any local Sheriff bonus credit. No 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 credit to be had on prison sentences. When you are filling out a felony judgment for your sentence you have to list all the actual dates you were in jail, not just how many days total.
Once you do that TDCJ will apply their own formula for calculating back time depending on what type of charge you have, which is 2 0 days for every 30 days you serve (or 50 days per month). BUT, and this is a big BUT this doesn’t help you get credit towards parole eligibility on 3g cases, you are still serving 1/2 that sentence before you are even eligible. And being eligible for parole doesn’t mean you’ll get it. If the word “sexual” or “child” appear in your offense, you should consider that 1/2 sentence parole eligibility more of an idea than the date you get freed from prison.
So what to do with this information? First, parole is an issue most trial lawyers hate to think about. It only gets more complicated each year, and it’s something I don’t handle on a regular basis. Beyond 3g and Drug Free Zones I don’t keep up with many of the particulars on what the hot new topics in parole are. That being said, your lawyer should have a basic understanding of what kind of offense you are looking at, and how many days credit you can expect from sitting in county. Most of us should be able to figure that out.