Finding a Way Out
When people are facing criminal charges, one of their first thoughts is “will I go to jail?” Understandably, the answer to this question can have a huge impact on your life. Jail can affect your ability to work, take care of your family, and maintain your ties to your community. With so much at stake, it's easy to fear a potential jail sentence. You need to speak with a criminal defense attorney to get a better idea of whether you could get jail time if you are convicted. But even if you could get jail time, you should know there are some alternatives to the traditional county jail sentence. Some are labor and employment-based, which allows you to provide labor or work in lieu of time in jail.
County sheriffs can grant work release to certain offenders who qualify. With work release, the offender provides labor to public works projects and/or non-profits in lieu of jail time. Eight to 10 hours of work release equate to one day (24 hours) in jail. Offenders are usually asked to serve two days a week of work release. They are allowed, however, to go home in the evening to be with their family and to fulfill other duties. The work is generally manual labor, but it's a great way to make contributions to your community. Work release is reserved for offenders serving short sentences (typically 45 days or less.)
Work furlough may be granted to offenders serving long jail sentences. With work furlough, the offender is released from custody during the day if they work or are enrolled in an accredited school program. Typically, offenders are released for a maximum of 12 hours a day.
Some offenders may be granted community service, often served through Cal-Trans. Offenders provide labor under the supervision of Cal-Trans, which generally entails cleaning up freeways. Offenders may be asked to pick up trash, attend to roadside vegetation or clean graffiti.
In California, there are several other options for jail alternatives to offenders, including:
- House arrest (with or without electronic monitoring)
- Therapy or counseling
- Drug treatment or rehabilitation (in-patient or out-patient)
- Drug court, and
- Behavioral management (e.g. anger management)
Getting a jail alternative, labor-based on not may take some effort on your part. Work with an attorney if you want an alternative to jail. The county often operates these programs. You will need to ask the judge and may even need approval from the county sheriff's office. There are many factors that can come into play in the judge's decision, such as:
- Whether your offense was serious or violent
- Whether you pose a threat to yourself, others, or the community
- Whether you have any prior convictions
Also, you should know that even if jail time is a potential sentence for your specific criminal charge, some crimes do not have a mandatory jail term. This means the judge can decide whether or not to give you jail time or give you an alternative, such as probation and/or community service. Many factors will influence the judge's decision on this matter.
These alternatives not only benefit you. California's jail and prison populations are too high and exceedingly expensive to maintain. In an effort to reduce the populations, certain non-violent offenders may be granted an alternative to incarceration. Policy research has shown these alternatives to incarceration are unlikely to compromise the safety of the community and increase recidivism. Hopefully, this means they will continue to provide non-violence offenders with a means to serve their sentence without jeopardizing their job, family, and other responsibilities.
Consult with an experienced California criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges. Only a criminal defense attorney will be familiar with the range of jail alternatives and the types of cases they could apply to. Many factors can influence your sentence, which means an attorney might be able to influence the judge's decision. An attorney can evaluate the facts and circumstances of your case and advise you on whether you could face a jail sentence and what you can do to get an alternative to jail.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for help in Tulare, Fresno, or Kings County. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can explain your charges and help you get the outcome you want. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense and won't be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.