YES, THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES TO GOING TO JAIL
Jan. 23, 2022
Not everyone charged with a crime in Ohio ends up serving time in jail or prison, especially if it’s a first-offense that is non-violent or involves addiction to drugs or alcohol. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction reports that, in fiscal year 2020, 9,513 offenders were placed in halfway hours, community residential centers, and/or Community Transitional Housing Programs.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, you don’t always have to end up behind bars. There are alternatives to jail—including diversion programs, probation, community service, and more—that can help you get your life back without the stigma and hardship of having been locked up. In some instances, you can even avoid a conviction going on your record.
If you’re facing a criminal charge in or around Columbus or nearby in Dublin, Westerville, Gahanna, Hilliard, or anywhere else in Ohio, contact the Wolfe Law Group, LLC. Their legal team has helped countless others like you get their lives back after a mistake lands them in trouble with the law.
What Is Alternative Sentencing?
Alternative sentencing is a legal means to avoid incarceration—and in some cases, avoiding a conviction that would go on your criminal record. A good criminal defense attorney can work with prosecutors to qualify you for one of the various alternatives available.
However, this doesn’t mean there are no consequences to whatever crime you committed. It merely means that requirements other than direct jail time will be placed on you. If you don’t complete the requirements, jail may await you.
Pretrial Diversion Programs
Pretrial diversion programs are for first-time offenders who have been charged with a non-violent crime, usually involving drugs or alcohol. Your defense attorney can seek to convince the prosecutors that you are unlikely to commit another crime, and that diversion is a good option in your case. If you successfully complete the program, you can also avoid a conviction appearing on your criminal record.
The program will likely include community service, a rehabilitation program, drug and alcohol testing, and requirements on where you live and work. If you don’t complete the requirements, an automatic guilty plea is entered and you may be sentenced to the maximum jail time for the crime with which you were charged.
An alternative to serving actual jail time is house arrest with electronic monitoring, generally with ankle devices. Thus, it is a postconviction alternative that does result in a criminal record. If the period of house arrest is violated, then the offender can be sent to jail for the crime committed.
In September 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled, in a case involving a man who had violated the terms of his house arrest, that the time he successfully spent under house arrest did not offset his impending jail time. In other words, house arrest does not count as credit for jail time if you violate its terms and are ordered incarcerated.
Probation and Community Service
Community service is often ordered as a part of a probationary program. Probation is an alternative to jail time that your criminal defense attorney can argue for, either as part of a pretrial plea bargain or during sentencing. In some instances, community service can be argued for or ordered by the court as a stand-alone punishment. Community service can also be offered to inmates to allow them a break from the tension of prison life and affords them an opportunity to give back to the community.
Probation itself is known as community supervision and can include many aspects in addition to community service, including checking in with a probation officer, maintaining residency and employment, not committing another crime, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and undergoing counseling and rehabilitation. If terms are violated, you may be sent to jail without a trial.
Let the Wolfe Law Group, LLC Help
Avoiding jail is possible—and if you successfully complete a diversion program, you may even avoid a guilty verdict going on your record. If you’re a first-time offender who has not committed a violent crime, you may qualify. Even if you are convicted at trial, there are still alternatives to serving jail time, including probation and community service.
Your best chance of avoiding time behind bars is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at the Wolfe Law Group, LLC will work with you to aim for the best possible result, including avoidance of jail time. If you’re facing a criminal charge in or around Columbus, Ohio, contact an attorney immediately for a one-on-one consultation.