One of the first things someone thinks about when they’re facing a criminal charge is what kind of sentence they might face. These vary depending on the charge and other factors. In some cases, the person won’t face any time in jail or prison.
Courts tend to favor alternative sentences for certain cases. Typically, a person who’s charged with a nonviolent offense and who doesn’t have a lengthy criminal record will be considered for alternative sentencing.
Common alternatives to imprisonment
Probation is a common alternative sentence. This involves the person following strict rules and being monitored by a probation officer. The terms of probation can include a variety of factors, including holding a job, maintaining housing, passing random drug tests, staying out of legal trouble and avoiding contact with felons.
Fines and restitution are common sentence components in criminal cases. The fines cover things like the cost of prosecution and court. Restitution goes to the victims of the case who had monetary losses. It’s paid to the court and disbursed to the individuals entitled to it.
Sometimes, the court will issue a sentence of imprisonment and then suspend the sentence based on the defendant’s willingness to comply with some other terms or conditions or their release. When that happens, the defendant wouldn’t have to complete the term of imprisonment unless they fail to adhere to the court’s orders. If the person successfully completes the other terms of their sentence, the suspended sentence is voided.
Anyone who’s facing criminal charges should learn about what sentences are possible if they’re convicted. This may play a role in the defense strategy they use. Getting started on this early in the case may help defendants to get their defense strategy together.