Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?
Anyone who’s been arrested knows how stressful it can be to get information about your charges and then wait for your trial, not knowing exactly what penalties you may face. Also, it’s only natural to want to know more about alternatives to incarceration and whether they’ll be available to you.
The best way to explore your options surrounding alternative sentencing is to meet with a criminal defense attorney so they can evaluate your specific case and offer you legal advice on your options. If you’re in the Dallas, Fort Worth, or Corpus Christi, Texas, area and you’d like to sit down with an experienced lawyer, give us a call at The Torres Law Firm to schedule an appointment.
An alternative sentence is any kind of criminal punishment that doesn’t involve going to jail or prison. Many times, these alternatives are agreed upon in the pre-trial phase, where lawyers for the prosecution and the defense agree to a plea deal for the defendant. However, alternative sentences can also be handed down by a judge at the end of a trial as long as they’re not constrained by mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
Sentencing alternatives are almost always preferable to those facing charges. Also, they can benefit the defendant by keeping them out of jail and able to remain at home and work. It can also help the state by reducing the overall prison and jail population.
One type of sentencing alternative is a diversion. This can cover several different types of programs. Essentially, your case will be diverted out of the criminal justice system and into a treatment program. For instance, if your charges were drug-related you may have to complete a drug treatment or mental health program. These are typically only offered once to defendants, meaning you can’t expect to be enrolled in another program if you already have in the past. Like most alternative sentencing options, they are more common for low-level and first-time offenders.
If you’re granted house arrest, this means that you’re essentially serving your sentence at home instead of in jail. To do this, you’re often required to submit to electronic monitoring (most commonly an ankle bracelet). Typically the individual is only permitted to stay on their own property, but in some cases, they may be able to go to and from work during certain hours of the day. House arrest is usually reserved for low-level offenders who aren’t considered a threat to those around them or someone who has pressing obligations at home, such as caring for an aging or infirm family member.
Community service may be given as an alternative sentence, but it’s also commonly used in addition to other penalties such as fines or restitution. If possible, the type of community service has a connection to the crime committed (for instance, cleaning up graffiti on walls or speaking in front of children about the dangers of drugs) or makes use of their skill set. This is typically reserved for misdemeanor convictions.
Finally, probation may be offered to someone who isn’t considered a threat to those around them and can be trusted to obey all rules surrounding it, including meeting regularly with a probation officer. Probation essentially defers jail time, and if the individual complies with the terms of the probation, they can avoid a jail sentence altogether.
Charged With a Crime? You Deserve a Strong Defense.
If you’re in the Corpus Christi, Texas, area and would like to meet with a criminal defense attorney to learn about your options for avoiding jail time, reach out to us at The Torres Law Firm today. Our team has the experience, knowledge, and skill to fight for your rights.