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Sentencing Options After a Criminal Conviction

Posted by attorney Andrew Morgan

Upon conviction of a criminal charge, you are subject to penalties that may include probation, fines, or incarceration. Your criminal attorney will do everything in his power to provide the court with alternative sanctions to incarceration.

If only probation or a fine is imposed by the court, it is often best to take these rather than asking for an alternative sanction. However, if the facts of your case and your past history provide the framework for the judge to consider incarceration, your attorney may suggest alternative sanctions in order to avoid this. Alternatives to incarceration clearly benefit you as the defendant, and they can also save the county or the state the extraordinary costs of incarceration.

Typically, in order to be eligible for an alternative sentence option, you must have no, or a very limited, criminal background, you must pose no threat to the public at large based upon the crime alleged, and the alleged crime must not have generated a public outcry for justice.

If your criminal attorney can successfully argue these facts to the court, you may avoid being incarcerated and instead be required to fulfill one of the following:

1. Community Service

This may be an appropriate option for someone whose conviction does not require a rehabilitative program. Typically, community service programs benefit non-profit organizations by providing the labor of the defendant in exchange for fulfilling the terms of the sentence.

2. Boot Camp

Boot camp is a military style program that emphasizes self-discipline. Typically, boot camp is appropriate for young, healthy individuals, as physical exertion is required. Many times, drug treatment and counseling are offered in conjunction with boot camp.

3. Weekend Incarceration

This may be an appropriate alternative where the offender has a regular job. If so approved, the individual is booked and enters into a detention facility on Friday evening after work and is released Monday morning prior to the beginning of the work week. In this manner, the required time is served without the further penalty of the loss of employment.

4. House Arrest

House arrest involves the use of an electronic monitoring system so the probation department can track the offender’s location. A device worn around the ankle is typically employed. A specific radius can be programmed into the system that will permit movement within that area, and the monitor may be turned off for approved times, such as for work, court visits, or medical appointments.

5. Intensive Supervision

Many options are available for intensive supervision of an offender. Often, intense supervision involves a combination of several probation requirements and with greater frequency. For example, the offender may have to visit his or her probation officer on a weekly basis, submit to random drugs tests, perform many hours of community service, and be subject to a curfew.

One caveat: Any alternative sentencing option involves another layer of bureaucracy and opportunities to fail. An experienced criminal attorney should seek such an option only when necessary to avoid incarceration.

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