California Alternative Sentencing

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A criminal conviction doesn’t  necessarily mean you are going to jail or prison. California voters, lawmakers, prosecutors and judges have all recognized that in certain circumstances where a law has been broken, justice may best be served by giving you an opportunity to complete your criminal sentence in the community rather than in custody.

While the goal of punishment for committing a crime is deterrence, a dual purpose is often served when an offender is offered and accepts the opportunity to correct his or her own criminal behavior.

Alternative sentencing - Community service
Many people serve in the community as a form of alternative sentencing.1

Alternative sentencing options can benefit the defendant, the criminal justice system and society as a whole. For the accused, especially first-time offenders, alternative sentencing gives them a chance to rehabilitate and set their lives straight.
Alternative sentencing provides you with a way to avoid serving jail or prison time, a consequence which can seriously disrupt your life and can lead to many of the following:

  • Loss of your job;
  • Loss of your residence and other valuable possessions (your vehicle, for example);
  • Loss of contact with your family members and friends;
  • Damage to your reputation;
  • Difficulty reintegrating back into the community;
  • Financial hardship;
  • Homelessness; and
  • Stigmatization.

The criminal justice system benefits by reducing the number of inmates committed to already overcrowded California jails and prisons, which in turn provides a substantial cost savings to the tax-payers who do not have to pay for your incarceration.

Because alternative sentencing typically involves your voluntary participation in pro-social behaviors and rehabilitative services, society also benefits from your exposure to conditions that may help you to avoid breaking the law in the future. This leads to a reduction in crime and thus contributes to the overall improvement of public safety.

In this section, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich want to share with you some of the eligibility requirements for alternative sentencing, the various types and benefits of alternative sentencing programs and how you may qualify for alternative sentencing if you are facing a criminal charge.

We will also explain the possible consequences if you fail to comply with the requirements of an alternative sentencing program.

Finally, we will provide answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s). First, let’s take a look at some of the eligibility requirements for an alternative sentencing program…

Alternative Sentencing Requirements

Alternative sentencing is not always an option for everyone. Factors that a judge may consider in determining whether or not you are an appropriate candidate for alternative sentencing may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Whether you are charged with a violent crime, such as robbery, rape or murder;
  • Your previous criminal history;
  • Whether you are currently on probation or parole for another crime;
  • Your prior success or failure to complete probation or parole;

    Alternative sentencing is not for everyone.
    It is ultimately up to the judge whether or not you are eligible for alternative sentencing.
  • Whether your offense involved the use of a weapon; and
  • Whether you are at risk of harming yourself or others.

Depending on the circumstances of your offense, alternative sentencing is available for many misdemeanor crimes, and some felony offenses as well. If you do not have any strikes (serious or violent felonies) on your record and you have not committed a crime that automatically disqualifies you from probation under the law, alternative sentencing may be considered by the court. The court will take into consideration the following factors:

  • Your risks and needs;
  • The nature and circumstances of the crime charged; and
  • The need for imprisonment in order to protect the public.

Types of Alternative Sentencing

If the judge grants alternative sentencing in your case, there are a variety of options as to how you can serve your sentence in the community, rather than in jail or prison. Some alternatives are optional and up to the judge’s discretion, while others may be statutorily mandated by California law.

What options are available to you often depends on the type of charge you are facing. Some of the most common forms of alternative sentencing options include the following:

  1. “Pay to stay” jail;
  2. Voluntary house arrest;
  3. Involuntary home detention;
  4. Electronic monitoring;
  5. Fines;
  6. Community service;
  7. Community Work Program;
  8. 12-step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous;
  9. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs;
  10. Probation – either summary or formal;
  11. Behavioral management programs;
  12. Deferred Entry of Judgment (also known as PC 1000);
  13. Drug diversion probation (also known as Proposition 36); and
  14. California Drug Court.

You can find more information on some of these alternative sentencing programs within your local area at https://www.wklaw.com/city/

Contact Wallin & Klarich about Alternative Sentencing Options

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich today. We have been successful in getting charges reduced or dismissed in many criminal cases. If negotiating a plea bargain is in your best interest, we will aggressively pursue any alternative sentencing options that may be available to you. A criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily mean you will go to jail or prison.

Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience dealing with judges, prosecutors and probation officers to help minimize the potential consequences of a criminal conviction. We may be able to negotiate for a solution that does not require you to serve any time in custody.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich will do everything they can to help you get the best possible result in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.


1. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Community_Service_Work_Detail_for_35th_District_Court_Northville_Michigan.JPG]

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