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Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?

June 17, 2022

Prison vs Alternative SentenceGetting arrested is a scary experience. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the charge, anyone facing criminal charges needs to be aware of the potential penalties and sentencing options that can be imposed if convicted. Many defendants are quick to settle for a public defender and plea bargain with the hopes that the lightest possible penalty will be imposed. The problem is that public defenders are often overloaded with random cases and lack the time and specific criminal defense experience to effectively advocate for their defendant.

Unlike a public defender, a Missouri criminal defense attorney has a clear and specific understanding of the criminal charges they face. In most cases, judges are given sentencing options that would provide alternatives to jail. These options are known to experienced attorneys and are able to best protect a defendant's rights and argue for reduced or alternative sentencing. 

Anyone facing criminal charges should immediately contact Michael J Englert, Attorney at Law, for help. Attorney Englert truly cares about each client and helps them pursue the fresh start they deserve. As a previous Assistant Municipal Prosecutor and Judge, his experience and expertise provides the best opportunity for seeking an alternative to a jail sentence. He proudly serves clients in Independence, Blue Springs, and Lee's Summit, Missouri.

What is Alternative Sentencing?

Simply stated, alternative sentencing is a criminal punishment other than jail or prison. An alternative punishment typically allows the person to complete their sentence and restitution within their community or home rather than a state or county facility. 

Those that benefit from receiving an alternative sentence can continue working and more specifically, address underlying factors of behavior such as addiction recovery and mental health. Alternative sentencing also allows low-level offenders to avoid the negative impacts of jail and the relational abandonment that may result from being incarcerated. 

Types of Alternative Sentencing

A defendant’s eligibility for alternative sentencing typically depends on the nature of the charges and their prior criminal history. Although sentencing guidelines vary by crime and state, there are several alternative sentencing options that are available in Missouri. 

Diversion Program

A diversion program is a form of alternative sentencing that keeps a criminal conviction from appearing on a person's record. In exchange for dismissal of the criminal charge, a defendant must complete a mandatory program such as anger management classes or drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Diversion eligibility may be offered for low-level crimes and those with no prior convictions. 

House Arrest

House arrest is another type of alternative sentencing that exchanges jail or prison time for confinement to the offender’s home or designated location. House arrest does not mean that a person can never leave their home. In some cases, individuals on house arrest may report to work, homes of family members, and appointments or pre-approved activities such as church. House arrest may be an alternative sentence for non-violent and low-risk criminals who pose a minimal risk to the community. 

Community Service

Community service is unpaid, volunteer work hours that are mandated by a judge at sentencing. Depending on punishment and rehabilitation goals, the judge may impose a variety of community service activities such as roadside clean-up, serving at homeless shelters, or other non-profit organizations. This form of alternative sentencing is usually reserved for property crimes, petty theft and shoplifting, first-time DUI, and low-impact fraud. 

Probation

If probation is ordered by a judge, a defendant will be ordered to complete supervised probation or court-supervised probation. Supervised probation requires regular meetings with a probation officer and the completion of other conditions. Court-supervised probation does not require the supervision of a probation officer but the conditions of the probation must still be completed. 

Skilled Legal Representation Can Help

If someone you know or love has been arrested and charged with a crime, they have options. A skilled criminal defense attorney can identify alternatives to jail that could be available to them and pursue the best option to resolve their case quickly and avoid jail. If you’re in the Independence, Missouri, area and need help understanding the scope of your charges, call Michael J Englert, Attorney at Law. Attorney Englert is proud to serve clients in Independence, Missouri, and neighboring areas of Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit.