Figuring Out Your Jail or Prison Time in VirginiaIf you have been convicted of a crime and you are sentenced to prison or jail, one of your major concerns after worry about surviving the ordeal is how much of your sentence you will need to serve. In Virginia, calculating the time that you must serve can be complicated. There are many factors that may affect your release date, and different counties calculate the time served differently. In addition, you may be entitled to time off for good behavior. Here, we discuss some of the basics of how your jail time could be calculated.

Is There Mandatory Prison Time in Virginia?

Some crimes in Virginia carry mandatory minimum prison sentences. This is the jail time that a judge must sentence you to, and he cannot suspend any portion of it. If you are sentenced to a mandatory prison sentence, you are required to serve it in active jail or prison. You are not entitled to have the minimum prison time reduced for good behavior. Common crimes that come with mandatory minimum prison sentences include:

How Is Jail Time Calculated for Misdemeanors?

The sheriff’s department is often responsible for calculating jail time for people convicted of misdemeanors. However, if you are sentenced for more than one year in jail, the Virginia Department of Corrections could calculate your time. Under Virginia law, sheriff’s departments must require inmates to serve 50 percent of their sentences unless there is a mandatory minimum sentence. In most Northern Virginia jails, people will only serve 50 percent of their sentence conditional on their good behavior.

How Is Jail Time Calculated for Felonies?

If your felony sentence is for less than a year, your jail or prison time would be calculated by the local sheriff’s department. For a sentence of more than a year, the Virginia Department of Corrections would calculate your time and release date. Under the law, you are required to serve 85 percent of a non-mandatory felony sentence. How much of the 15 percent credit you receive would depend on the policies of the individual jail. Many in Virginia will give an inmate the full 15 percent credit while a few may not give as much credit.

Differences in How Jail Time Is Calculated

Different jails calculate a day or month of jail time differently, making it more difficult for you to be certain their calculations are accurate. For example, in Fairfax County, your time would be calculated using a calendar day. If you were serving jail time in Prince William, your time would be calculated based on a 24-hour day. Here is how these systems work. If you were incarcerated at 4:00 pm, at 12:00 midnight, you would have served the first day of your sentence in Fairfax County. However, in Prince William, you would not have served a full day until 4:00 pm the following day.

Do I Get Credit for Time Served?

In Virginia, you are entitled to credit for any time that you served for the crime you were convicted of while in the jurisdiction. If you were arrested in another jurisdiction, you would not get credit for the time period you were waiting for extradition. In many cases, the credit is calculated automatically. If not, a judge may give the credit for time served if you file a motion requesting that he do so.

What Should You Do If You Believe There Is an Error in Your Jail Time Calculations?

It is important that you understand how your time served in jail or prison is calculated to ensure that you do not spend more time incarcerated than required under your sentence. You also want to get the credit that you are entitled to for good behavior. If you have questions about your jail time or believe an error was made in calculating your time, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call our Fairfax office today at (703) 352-0100 to schedule a free consultation to learn how our criminal defense team can assist you.