Appeals court: No 'line of credit' for time served in unrelated crimes

Berkshire defendant tried to have one stretch of lockup count toward a separate crime's penalty

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BOSTON — Can a defendant apply credit for time already served from one unrelated case to another?

In a word, no, according to last week's ruling by the state's Appeals Court, stemming from two 2016 Berkshire County cases.

According to a copy of the decision, Harold W. Ross III was found guilty May 17, 2016, of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and vandalism, and was sentenced to one year in jail.

But on April 11, 2016, while out on bail before that Pittsfield case being tried, Ross was arrested in Great Barrington on a charge of assault and battery on a family or household member. Bail was set at $1,000, which was not posted. On May 5, Ross was released on his own recognizance, and June 23, that case was dismissed.

Ross filed a motion to have the time spent held on bail in the Great Barrington case applied toward his sentence in the Pittsfield case.

Ross' motion argues that the judge in the Pittsfield case committed errors that prevented a fair trial and faulted them for denying his motion for sentence credit. The motion was denied, and an appeals xourt affirmed the lower court's ruling on the denial of credit.

The court cited case law in its denial, noting that previous rulings have decided that "a defendant is entitled to credit for time spent confined to jail before sentencing so long as that confinement is related to the criminal episode for which the prisoner is then sentenced. Time spent in custody awaiting trial for one crime generally may not be credited against a sentence for an unrelated crime."

The court found that the lower-court judge was correct in denying the motion, noting that doing otherwise would create a situation in which a criminal defendant could accumulate a "line of credit" or served time to be applied to future convictions.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.

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