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Indiana Credit Time Issues

For those caught off guard, there can be many pitfalls related to criminal punishments received following a dui sentencing hearing that a defendant may not have anticipated. For this reason it is absolutely essential that a person entering such a hearing fully understand all potential legal ramifications as to criminal penalty and/or potential additional license suspensions not bargained for.

One such area of confusion often involves the issue of “credit time” as applied to the actual number of days in jail, a work release facility or days on home detention that an individual is agreeing to serve as part of any proposed settlement agreement. Unfortunately, how such credit time is determined has not only proved burdensome for those sentenced, but too frequently to lawyers inexperienced in the field of dui sentencing calculations.

Credit time most directly means the time one will reduce from one’s “executed” sentence of incarceration for good behavior while confined. Most commonly this credit time is apportioned as one day reduced for every day of good behavior. An executed sentence of one year therefore equates to serving an actual sentence of six months. In Indiana, absent the commission of a new offense or other severe aggravating conduct while confined, it is extremely rare for credit time to be taken away from a defendant’s dui sentence.

With that said there has been notable modifications to credit time sentencing in Indiana. Limiting our discussion to dui offenses, should one be sentenced above a level 6 felony level (for example owi causing serious injury or death) earned credit time would be reduced from the conventional day for day credit to one day credit for every 3 days served.

Next comes the essential analysis of, “what is considered executed time?” This investigation is important because a client’s ability to secure the above referenced day for day credit is predicated upon an executed sentence being imposed. While incarceration within a prison or county jail is an obvious definition of executed incarceration eligible for good time credit, sentences involving imposed work release and/or house arrest requirements offer no such blanket assurances.

Here is what is important to know; if any part of a settlement agreement calls for work release and/or house arrest, credit time will be given should the sentence imposed be labeled a “direct commitment” sentence as opposed to ordered as a “condition of probation.” In other words if a dui defendant is sentenced to a work release sentence as a direct commitment, any violation of work release rules would immediately transfer the individual to jail or prison to finish out the remainder of the executed term. This determination would be made without a further judicial hearing and would be implemented due to the work release facility not being willing to continue to supervise the violating defendant.

However, should one be sentenced to the above referenced work release as a direct commitment and fulfill all obligations of such a sentence, day for day credit time would be earned. Accordingly, a one year work release sentence ordered as a direct commitment would also qualify for day for day credit and equal an actual sentence of six months.

Many times an inexperienced lawyer may not know the distinction between direct commitments and conditions of probation to a client’s detriment. This hardship on many occassions occurs when a prosecutor fashions a work release and/or house arrest sentence as a condition of probation as opposed to a direct commitment. In such cases the individual does not receive day for day good time credit and must complete the entire sentence in actual days. Thus, one year of work release to be ordered as a condition of probation would equate to an actual one year sentence to be served within a work release facility.

As can be seen the mechanisms behind the issue of earned credit time can be a vital part to securing a successful outcome on behalf of a client in need of the best representation possible. Should work release and or house arrest be an option being considered, please make sure to know the consequences of how a such a sentence will be ordered. If just embarking on your dui defense I encourage you to begin your research at my legal defense homepage or simply call me at any time for further legal counsel.

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