time served

In criminal law, “time served” describes a sentence where the defendant is credited immediately after the guilty verdict with the time spent in remand awaiting trial. The time is usually subtracted from the sentence, with only the balance being served after the verdict. For example, the final verdict in the trial of Louise Woodward was that she was guilty, and her sentence was “time served” (in her case 279 days). In this case, this meant she was immediately released. Time served simply refers to “the period a criminal defendant has been in jail, while awaiting either bail or awaiting trial”. Often, as a matter of law, a judge will give a defendant “credit for time served”, particularly when sentencing for misdemeanors. Example: Johnny Jumpstart was arrested for drunk driving and spent the night in jail before he was released on his own recognizance. Since the minimum sentence in his state was 48 hours, the judge will sentence him to that time, less 14 hours for time served. After lengthy waits in jail before trial, ‘time served’ may become very important to the defendant. In some cases, time served may earn credit at a different rate than regular incarceration. For example, the defendant may get credit for a multiple of the amount of time spent in remand, say 2 times, so that 2 months in remand gives 4 months credit toward the sentence. Time served is also a term used to indicate a craftsman has spent the required period as an apprentice.