n. the period a criminal defendant has been in jail, often while awaiting bail or awaiting trial. Often a judge will give a defendant "credit for time served," particularly when sentencing for misdemeanors. Example: Johnny Jumpstart was arrested for drunk driving and spent the night in jail before he was released on his own recognizance. Since the minimum sentence in his state was 48 hours, the judge will sentence him to that time, less 14 hours for time served. After lengthy waits in jail before trial, "time served" may become very important to the defendant.