Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?
April 11, 2023
If you’re being investigated for a crime, or if you’ve already been charged, you may be wondering if it'll be possible to avoid jail or prison time. There are indeed alternatives to incarceration, but your outcome will depend on the details of your case and the criminal defense attorney you choose to represent you.
Some of these alternatives include probation, suspended sentencing, house arrest, community service, and a diversion program. Your attorney can work with the prosecutors before trial in an effort to get the charge lowered or dropped altogether or to get a plea deal that avoids any time behind bars. In short, if you are facing a criminal charge, you need to seek out experienced legal counsel and don’t rush to accept the first plea deal prosecutors offer you, or worse, to plead guilty with the rationalization, “If I own up, they’ll go easy on me.” There’s simply no guarantee of that.
If you’re facing a criminal investigation or charge in or around Daytona Beach, Florida, contact our team at DaytonaDefense.com. Reach out immediately when the investigation begins. Don’t even answer questions except for identifying yourself until you’ve spoken with us. Anything you say, as the Miranda Rights warning makes explicit, “can and will be used against you.”
What Is Alternative Sentencing?
Alternative sentencing can refer to anything other than incarceration. You may also be able to avoid incarceration by paying fines or restitution to the victim. Let’s look at some of the most common alternatives to jail in Florida and what they entail:
A judge can order probation when the crime with which you have been charged does not carry a mandatory jail or prison sentence. Often, probation is a premier option for first-time offenders. Probation is also often part and parcel of a suspended sentence. If you complete the conditions of the probation, you will be able to avoid incarceration. And in some cases, you may even have your conviction dropped from the records.
Probation can be supervised, meaning you have to check in with your probation officer. Or it can be unsupervised, meaning you’re more on your own to live up to the terms of the deal. Probation usually entails obeying all laws and not getting in trouble again, e.g. paying fines, fees, and restitution; maintaining employment; abstaining from drugs and alcohol and agreeing to periodic tests; and possibly attending treatment or counseling sessions.
Instead of placing you behind bars, the court can place you under house arrest, which literally means that you’ll be kept as a prisoner in your own home. House arrest limits your freedom and generally requires the installation of an ankle bracelet to electronically monitor your movement. The ankle bracelet will wirelessly forward your location to a monitoring center.
Typically, the “house” in house arrest refers to your home’s interior and perhaps the yard adjoining the house. If you’re employed, the device can be programmed to allow you to journey to and from your workplace and remain there during work hours.
When people hear the term “community service,” they usually equate it with people picking up trash along highways or other public areas. However, community service can also mean providing skills that you have attained to help others. If you have accounting or computer skills, you may be ordered to use those to help nonprofit organizations. You may even be asked, to speak at a school or public event to educate others about the consequences of bad decisions.
In Florida, the Office of the Attorney General has several diversion programs to offer early intervention to some offenders. One such program is the Underage Drinking Diversion Program for those under 21 who consume or possess alcohol, or who try to gain access to an establishment that serves alcohol. Those who qualify must complete an online course and submit a certificate of completion, after which the charge will be dismissed.
Another program is the Resisting Officer Without Violence Diversion Program. This usually involves those who are charged with misdemeanor drug possession or even with third-degree drug possession. A prior criminal conviction does not necessarily bar the individual. Again, the program involves an online video course and a completion certificate. Thereafter, a “No Information” or “Nolle Prosequi” will be filed, which terminates the legal proceeding.
Skilled & Compassionate Legal Counsel
Not only do you want to avoid time behind bars, but if at all possible, you want to avoid having a criminal record that will haunt you going forward by making employment, housing, and public benefits hard to obtain. That’s why you need to seek quality legal counsel as soon as the issue of a possible charge arises.
At DaytonaDefense.com, our experienced and empathetic attorney will fight for your rights and work aggressively for the best possible outcome. We know how to build a strategy based on your unique circumstances and needs and then work side-by-side with you on seeking a favorable conclusion. We proudly serve clients in Daytona Beach, DeLand, Port Orange, New Smyrna Beach, Palm Coast, Volusia County, and Flagler County. Reach out today to discuss your case.