Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Deprivation of Lawful Jail Credit

Courts must be careful when sentencing defendants to prison lest they inadvertently deprive a defendant of lawful jail credit by failing to state the number of jail credit days or by stating the number of jail credit days but directing the prison to “verify” jail credit.  When the Department of Corrections is asked to determine or verify jail credit they rely on information stored in the Minnesota Statewide Supervision System, which contains detention data from every jail facility in the state. Detention data used for calculating jail credit falls within one of five categories: straight time; work release/education release; sentence to service; weekender/intermittent; and electronic home monitoring.  Jail credit is always given for straight time, but may be denied for the other categories.

Because there are no consistent statewide or county jail definitions for detention categories other than straight time, the DOC maintains they cannot accurately determine jail credit. As a result, the DOC policy is to deny jail credit for every detention category except straight time. If a defendant feels they are not being granted appropriate credit they are told to contact their attorney and/or the court to have the matter judicially determined.

To avoid this problem: 1) When pronouncing sentence, the court must state the number of days spent in custody that the defendant is entitled to receive as jail credit (Minn. R. Crim. P. 27.03, sub. 4(b)); 2) If the court and attorneys don’t have enough information to determine jail credit at the time of sentencing, then either continue the sentencing hearing to a future date or sentence the defendant but reserve the issue of jail credit for your local corrections department to determine (within a reasonable period of time) and then issue an amended order stating the amount of jail credit. Do not request the DOC to verify jail credit.

Judge Alan F. Pendleton

10th Judicial District


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