What to Expect if Sentenced to Jail or Prison

Mark Joseph Sullivan

Written by

Lawyer - Palm Springs, CA

Contributor Level 8

Posted about 6 years ago. 19 helpful votes



County Jail Sentences

Many defendants who are sentenced to county jail are given the opportunity to do their time on weekends. It's a good opportunity if you have a good job that you're going to lose if you are sentenced to straight time. But if you aren't employed, or if your job will be waiting for you when you get out, I usually recommend that you do straight time. Here's why.


Straight Time

Doing straight time is usually better than doing weekend custody for a number of reasons. One is that a weekend custody sentence is a violation of probation just waiting to happen. There are many technicalities regarding weekend custody, i.e., hoops that defendants are forced to jump through. If, for example, you miss a weekend, you might be violated and be subject to receiving more jail time or even state prison time, depending on the conviction. Secondly, studies show that the worst emotional distress an inmate suffers comes in the fist few days of confinement. If you opt for weekends, you suffer this emotional distress every time to prepare to go to jail. And all week long, you dread the thought of Friday afternoon approaching. Thirdly, if you opt for straight time, you'll be eligible for a possible early release. Not so with weekend custody.


Weekend Custody

As I previously mentioned, weekend custody can be a good thing - if you have a typical weekday job and you're in danger of losing it if you go to jail for a long period of time. But there are other alternative sentencing possibilities as well. For example, you may be offered work furlough, where you do unpaid work for the county during the day, but you're able to sleep at home at night. You also might be eligible for home detention, where you pay for the privilege of working at your own job, making money, and sleeping at home every night. You'll have to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, but not many people will know about your sentence.


State Prison Sentences

If you're one of the unfortunate defendants to be sentenced to state prison, you'll need to keep in mind certain facts. Whether or not your sentencing is covered by the news media, in the courtroom there will usually be spectators and other defendants who are in custody. How you conduct yourself at the sentencing will get back to others in the jail. If you're sentenced to prison, be strong and take it like a man. Your conduct at the sentencing hearing will be the talk of the jail. If you cry and whine and beg and plead with the judge, you're going to be mistreated by your inmates in the jail - and all the way to prison. Don't show any emotion. Don't plead for a stay of execution, and, by all means, don't ask the judge to let you have a goodbye kiss from your wife, your mother or your kids. Kissing your mother or wife goodbye is something that you should have done at home on the morning you came to court. And your kids would've had no business attending your sentencing anyway.


Request for Stay of Execution

Don't ask your lawyer to ask the judge for a stay of execution unless it's absolutely necessary. You've probably already had plenty of time to prepare for any eventuality, including this prison sentence. Stand up like a man, strong and fearless, and refuse to show cowardice or despair. If you show strength of character and determination to atone for your crimes, you'll command respect, and your time in prison will pass much more quickly. If you keep asking for delays and you keep coming up with excuses, it will come back to haunt you, and you'll eventually be sorry that you did. Plus, you probably won't get what you're asking for from the sentencing judge anyway, so your conduct will have been counter-productive. Start immediately to turn your life around. The key word is accountability. Earn some respect. Take responsibility for what you did, and start today to turn your life around.

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Related Topics

Criminal defense

Criminal law establishes the classifications of crimes, how guilt or innocence is determined, and the types of punishment or rehabilitation that may be imposed.

Sentencing for criminal conviction

Sentencing is the process after criminal conviction in which the judge determines your punishment, such as jail or prison time, community service, and/or fines.

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