Calculate Jail Credit at Sentencing in Florida
In State v. Mancino, 714 So. 2d 429 (Fla. 1998), the Court explained the problem faced by trial courts in attempting to calculate jail credit at sentencing by quoting Judge Chris Altenbernd's observations on the subject:
From reviewing many sentencing transcripts, it is clear to me that trial judges use several different procedures to determine jail credit at sentencing. Some court files contain a detailed log of jail credit and others have little or no information about time served in the local county jail. Time served in jails outside the county is rarely documented in the court file. At sentencing hearings, judges are often forced to make a quick "guesstimate" of jail credit with assistance from the defendant and counsel. . . . When the trial court guesses low, invariably the defendant discovers this error while in prison and files a motion requesting relief.
At this time, there is no adequate statewide source of information to help the trial judge make this calculation, and there is no adequate review procedure for the prisoner. The issue is rarely preserved for review by direct appeal. . . .At least in theory, this issue can be raised by the defendant's attorney prior to appeal in a motion pursuant to the new rule 3.800(b). Unless the public defenders who handle cases at trial significantly modify their procedures, however, they will not discover these errors within the rule's 30-day period.
I do not profess to be an expert on the best methods to record and calculate jail credit. I do know, however, that the Department of Corrections already calculates prison credit when a trial judge checks the box for prison credit on the written sentence. In this computer age, the legislature could authorize the Department to obtain statewide records for use in all cases. I believe the trial court should at least have the option of allowing the Department to calculate jail credit in complex cases. This certainly would be better than forcing trial judges to scribble calculations while reciting "thirty days hath September" at every sentencing hearing.
If it is not feasible for the legislature to delegate this task to the Department, then the supreme court should consider the creation of a specific rule of procedure to allow these matters to be processed in the trial courts and reviewed on appeal in a timely and efficient manner. Mancino, 714 So. 2d at 431-32 (Fla. 1998)
In State v. Mancino, the Court held that a claim of credit for jail time served is cognizable in a rule 3.800(a) motion to the extent that the record reflects an undisputed entitlement to credit for time served and a sentence that fails to give such credit.
Although it is not clear from the opinion, Mancino presumably sought relief under rule 3.800(a) because the sentencing error was not discovered within the thirty-day period in which to bring a rule 3.800(b) motion to correct.