This blog entry discusses jail time while awaiting resolution of pending criminal charges.There are a large number of innocent people sitting in jails across America.  This may seem like some sort of bold political statement, but really it is a just a simple fact. If you have been charged with a crime in the United States, you have a presumption of innocence, so you are in fact innocent until proven guilty.  

Further, in many cases, when someone is charged with a crime, that person is arrested and place in jail and that person will have spent some time in jail even if he is found not guilty or his charges end up getting dismissed because of his actual innocence. 

In this blog, we will talk about pre-trial detention and some of the things that go along with that.  This is intended for informational purposes only and would be a poor substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense lawyer.

Charging, arrest, and processing

When someone is charged with a crime, unless it is extremely minor and only requires a citation, that person is arrested. That arrest can come from probable cause, or the execution of arrest warrant. The person is then processed and goes before a magistrate who sets the terms and conditions of release.  Usually some sort of bond is set, unless the person has been charged in federal court, which has an entirely different procedure.

Pre-Trial detention

In state court, if someone cannot afford the bond, they have to sit in jail until their case is resolved.  It is irrelevant whether or not the person actually committed the crime at this point – they will sit in jail for at least as long as it takes for their case to be resolved.  This can take many months and in some cases over a year. Please note that your criminal defense attorney does not control the timeline of your criminal case.

Life in jail

While in jail, many restrictions apply. Obviously, people are taken away from their families, homes, and jobs during this time, but even with that said, there are many more restrictions.  For example, inmates are told when to eat, when to sleep, and when they can shower.  Visiting times are very restricted as to when someone can come see them, and how that interaction is handled.  Outgoing, and incoming mail is checked, all phone calls are paid for by the inmate or his family, and every phone call is monitored and recorded.

Medical facilities are limited, so even if the inmate had some sort of prescription that they were taking or therapy they were receiving, it is not going to be the same as when they had their liberty.

Jail credit

If the defendant is found guilty of the charge, the days that he spent in jail will be credited towards his sentence.  For example: if they defendant was in jail for 60 days, and he gets an active sentence of 90 days, he will only have to serve 30 more days in jail.

It is important to note, however, that if the defendant is found not guilty, the charges are dismissed, or the defendant’s sentence doesn’t include jail time (or includes less jail time than what they have served), nothing special happens. In such cases, the defendant does not get anything to make up for that “extra” jail time served.  Jail credit cannot be usedtowards future charges, and there is no compensation for the time that wastaken from the defendant’s life.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, contact us.  Gilles Law has criminal defense lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina that serve the surrounding areas in both North Carolina and South Carolina.