Author Stephanie Ramsey and Jackie Fitzgerald
Published May 2019
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 140
Subject Bail / Remand; Prisons and prisoners; Sentencing
Keywords Time-served, sentencing, remand, imprisonment, custody

Download this publication



A proportion of remandees who receive a penalty of imprisonment are immediately released from custody because the duration of their sentence is equivalent to the time they have already spent in custody on remand; this is referred to as ‘being sentenced to time-served’. This report summarises recent trends in patterns for defendants sentenced to time already served in custody.


Descriptive analysis of adult prison sentences imposed by the Criminal Courts from July 2013 to June 2018.


The number of persons sentenced to time-served has increased by 65 percent over the five years to June 2018 (up from 472 in 2013/14 to 781 in 2017/18). The proportion of all sentences received by remandees that are time-served has also increased, up one percentage point from 8.3 per cent in 2013/14 to 9.3 per cent in 2017/18. The median time spent on remand for those sentenced to time-served also increased, up from 60 days in 2013/14 to 88 days in 2017/18.


It is reasonable to assume that some fraction of people sentenced to time-served spend longer in prison on remand than the duration of the prison sentence they would have received had they not been remanded. Unfortunately we cannot tell how many extra days in prison these offenders are spending as we do not know what sentence they would have received had they not been held on remand. The results do, however, suggest that more people are serving longer in custody than they would have if sentenced immediately. The primary reason for the increase is the large rise in the remand population since 2013.

Download this publication