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Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail? 

David Lee Sellers, PA Jan. 12, 2023

Hands of The PrisonerThe possibility of facing jail time can be overwhelming. After all, dealing with incarceration is a life-altering situation. However, the good news is that incarceration is not the only possible outcome of criminal charges. There are various types of alternative sentencing the court can consider. 

What Is Alternative Sentencing in Florida? 

In Florida, alternative sentencing refers to penalties for charges besides prison time. These alternative penalties do not diminish the severity of the charges or conviction. They are simply a way of accepting one’s criminal responsibility without incarceration.  

What Are the Benefits of Alternative Sentencing? 

Alternative sentencing allows individuals to move on with their lives. Non-prison penalties provide people with the opportunity to start over. In contrast, incarceration can become a devastating experience from which an individual may never recover. Exploring alternative sentencing gives charged individuals the flexibility to ensure they will not commit any further criminal activity. Here are some additional benefits of alternative sentencing to consider:

  • The individual’s health and safety are prioritized. 

  • The court saves time and money. 

  • The state saves costs related to running prisons. 

  • Prisons remain at their intended capacity. 

  • Individuals have the opportunity to put their convictions behind them. 

  • Individuals can receive the help and support they need in a safe environment. 

Please note that alternative sentencing does not automatically happen. That is why consulting a professional criminal defense attorney is crucial. They can advocate on your behalf and work with the prosecution to pursue an alternative sentencing solution that meets your individual needs.  

Alternatives to Incarceration 

Here is an overview of the alternatives to jail or incarceration in Florida: 

  • Rehabilitation. Rehabilitation consists of psychological, substance abuse, or anger management treatment. For instance, if you’re charged with a DUI, you may opt for substance abuse rehabilitation instead of a jail term. Generally speaking, first offenders with a clean rap sheet can request an alternative sentence like this. 

  • House arrest. House arrest can be a viable alternative to incarceration at a state penitentiary. It is ideal for short-term sentences related to misdemeanor crimes. In particular, the court must determine that the defendant is not a flight risk and is willing to comply with a mandatory court appearance. Wearing an ankle device is mandatory in this alternative. 

  • Community service. Misdemeanors or other low-level crimes may result in community service. For instance, public intoxication, assault (such as a bar fight), or petty theft may qualify you for community service. However, your criminal record plays a key role. First offenders and people with a clean rap sheet can opt for community service, such as cleaning public roads or assisting in other public services. 

  • Probation. Probation is often sentenced instead of jail time in first-offense cases. For example, vandalism charges can result in probation. However, individuals on probation must ensure they do not violate the terms of their probation. Otherwise, you can be arrested immediately and ordered to serve the mandatory jail term.   

It’s key to note that your criminal history plays a key role in opting for alternative sentencing. Individuals with an extensive rap sheet may find it difficult to qualify for the above alternative penalties. A trusted criminal defense attorney can work with prosecutors to reduce charges so that a charged individual may qualify for alternative sentencing. For instance, an individual involved in a bar fight can get aggravated assault charges reduced to common assault. In doing so, the individual may opt for probation instead of a mandatory jail term. 

Getting the Right Legal Counsel in Florida 

Dealing with the prospect of incarceration can be daunting. So, don’t go at it alone. Get the right legal counsel you need from a top criminal defense attorney in Florida. Exercise your right to a fair defense and reach out to David Lee Sellers, PA, today. Attorney Sellers is ready to provide the knowledgeable and compassionate counsel you deserve. He proudly serves those in Pensacola, Florida, and the neighboring communities of Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, and Milton.