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Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?

Jan. 31, 2022

The possibility of incarceration is designed to be a deterrent for those tempted to commit a crime. It frequently is not a great enough threat to deter crime; however, the prospect of it may be frightening once you are charged with a crime where jail time is a possible penalty.

There are some alternatives to going to jail for certain crimes in Florida. Qualifying for them is not automatic. It often takes an experienced criminal defense attorney to convince a judge that other punishments provide better results.

At The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A., we treat our clients charged with crimes with compassion and respect, and we will argue aggressively to keep them out of jail whenever possible. If you have been charged with a crime in Clearwater, Tampa, New Port Richey, or St. Petersburg, Florida, we can help.

What Is Alternative Sentencing?

Alternative sentencing is any punishment someone convicted of a crime may receive in lieu of incarceration in jail or prison.

Alternatives to jail are often beneficial for the offender, families, the community, and the justice system at large. In cases where drug, alcohol, and other addictions are related to the crime, alternative sentences can help an offender get addiction services they need to overcome them. Alternatives can allow an offender to work, earning a living for themselves and their families. Some alternatives to incarceration require offenders to give back to their communities which benefits those communities. Alternatives also provide a solution to overcrowded jails and prisons and reduce taxpayers’ cost of feeding and housing offenders.

What Is Diversion?

Diversion programs are “deferred adjudication,” redirecting offenders from the criminal justice system prior to trial and into programs designed to rehabilitate them. Offenders who complete diversion programs can avoid the prejudice of having spent time in jail.

Diversion programs are designed to address mental health issues, substance abuse and addiction, domestic violence, and child neglect. First-time and young offenders and those with mental health, addiction, and anger issues may qualify for diversion.

What Is House Arrest?

Technology has made house arrest a viable alternative to jail for many offenders. Instead of being in jail, you will be ordered to serve a certain period under house arrest, usually wearing an ankle monitor that will show where you are at any given moment. If you are not required to wear an ankle monitor, you may be required to make scheduled telephone calls from your home, or if you are allowed out of the home to work, from your workplace.

House arrest may differ by the freedom you have while being monitored. You may be required to never leave your home or travel beyond the boundary of a yard. Other sentences may allow you to leave for certain things such as work, school, medical appointments, or visits with a probation officer.

House arrest is usually reserved for non-violent offenders whose crime did not put others in imminent harm.

What Is Community Service?

Community service requires that an offender devote a certain number of hours to working for entities and programs that benefit the community at large. Besides exchanging community service for jail time, offenders may be able to pay fines through their work.

Opportunities for community service are typically provided by governmental entities and nonprofit or charitable organizations. The intent is to avoid the cost of incarceration, provide an opportunity for the offender to learn and grow through their community service work, as well as to offer the community the benefit of the work done by the offender.

Community service may be an option for first-time nonviolent offenders and those convicted of misdemeanor offenses.

What Is Probation?

Probation is an offender’s release back into the community without the full freedom they had prior to conviction. The alternative is usually offered to some first-time or low-risk offenders.

Probation may be supervised by the court, which requires scheduled check-ins with a probation officer, or unsupervised probation that may have the same restrictions but don’t require supervision by a probation officer.

Terms of probation can include a range of restrictions. You may be ordered to not associate with certain people, consume no or limited alcohol, complete community service, and not re-offend by breaking even a minor law. Another condition may be consenting to random search or drug testing by a law enforcement officer without any need for probable cause. Any violation of a probation condition could land you back in jail.

Let The Law Offices of
Hoskins and Penton, P.A. Help

There are alternatives to jail for many offenders, but you need a criminal defense attorney who will fight for you to get them. If you have been charged with a crime in or near Clearwater, Florida, and want to avoid jail, we may be able to help.

Put the experience of The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A. to work for you today. Call now.