• How do I earn good time in a federal court?

    In Federal cases, the Bureau of Prisons will award 54 days good time credit off of your sentence for every full year to which you were sentenced. If you are given 23 months sentence, for example, then you only have 1 full year (12 months) and will only get one 54-day reduction. Unlike state court, good time computations will begin the first day you step foot in county jail even before you are found guilty and sentenced. There may be other ways to reduce your sentence, by the way, the best known one for US citizens with two or more years sentence is the Alcohol and Drug Assistance Program (500 Hours Program) which is handled within the Correctional Institute but, on graduation, entitles the inmate to be release six months early into a halfway house.

  • How do I earn 50% good time in a state court?

    For nonviolent crimes, and some violent crimes where the judge had discretion to require 50 or 85% good time and either says nothing or awards 50% good time, then for every day the inmate serves in prison a second day is taken off of his sentence. A three year sentence would end up being one and one half years for example. The one catch is that time spent in local jail awaiting trial/plea counts as only one day off the sentence, not two. It is not completely dead time but you may not get the benefit of good time

  • How do I earn 85% good time in state cases?

    This is a misnomer because what it means is that, because the crime was violent in nature, the inmate must serve 85% of the sentence and only 15% is reduced for good time in prison. This will apply to habitual offender time attached to a violent crime. And you can lose some good time for major infractions in prison (you did not earn good time credits for a period in which you were not considered a “good” inmate without violations).

  • What is a consecutive sentence?

    A consecutive sentence results in a longer sentence than a concurrent sentence. If you imagine two ice cubes, one that will melt in five years and the other in four, under consecutive sentencing the prison officials wait until the five year sentence is completed before counting time off of the four year sentence. In our example the two sentences served consecutively will result in an actual time of nine years minus good time. Sometimes the law requires consecutive sentences such as a new crime that is committed while serving another sentence in prison or jail, firearm enhancements and habitual offender time. Often however the sentencing judge simply wants to impose a greater sentence and decides upon consecutive terms to make the punishment greater.

  • What is a concurrent sentence?

    A concurrent sentence results in a shorter sentence than a consecutive sentence. Using the two ice cubes, they both begin melting at the same time and after four years, the smaller cube has completely melted and the other cube only has one year left to go. So in our example concurrent sentences for five and four years will result in five years of actual time.

  • What are the pros and cons of the New Mexico Pre-Prosecution Diversion Program?

    PPDP is a quick detour out of the court system before you ever go to court. This is a big plus as you won’t have a criminal record, you won’t need to hire a lawyer so long as you can complete your PPDP successfully. It makes sense when you are definitely guilty of the offense, no questions asked. The minus is that you give up your right to a trial, to confront the witnesses against you and to present your own witnesses. You basically admit guilt in a statement to your PPDP officer. The other minus is that you are doing a form of probation and whatever hurdles put on you by the probation officer (s/he will probably use a different title) such a restitution (paying back money the victims lost), counselling (for example, substance abuse or anger management), treatment and community service (volunteering “for free” for a local non-profit group).

  • Expungement of criminal records in federal courts

    In the hyperlink is an article written 18 months ago. If you can wade through the lawyer speak, you may notice how, in nearly all jurisdictions, juvenile (under age 18) records are expunged routinely. In many states there is a procedure to request the judge expunge the record. In other states like New Mexico the legislature is thinking about setting up a limited procedure but has not gotten around to passing a law for it. But in federal court, most of the circuits have looked into expungement and have made it very difficult to do. The answer is not always “no.” If you can show that government misconduct infected his arrest or the initiation of your prosecution, you will have a strong argument for an order of expungement. In other circumstances, courts clearly are disinclined to grant expungement based on equitable considerations but have done so in special cases where unique factors justified the exercise of the court’s equitable authority.