What Are Sentencing Alternatives to Incarceration in Florida?
Across the country, jails and prisons are overcrowded, causing a heavy burden on taxpayers. More often, judges are beginning to use alternative sentencing for convicted criminals as opposed to incarceration.
As long as the law at play doesn’t involve mandatory jail sentences, judges can use their discretion when sentencing convicted criminals. If you’re facing a criminal charge in the Central Florida area, a criminal defense attorney can negotiate a plea deal to help you avoid jail time. Keep reading to learn more about prison-alternatives in Florida.
A common alternative to jail or prison is probation. Instead of spending time in jail, the individual continues living in their community. However, they have significantly less freedom than other citizens, like having to follow curfews. Courts typically grant probation to first-time or low-risk offenders. The two different types of probation are:
- Supervised probation: A defendant placed on supervised probation is required to attend meetings with their probation officer, comply with a curfew, submit to random drug tests, and maintain their employment.
- Unsupervised probation: In unsupervised probation, the individual does not have to meet with a probation officer. However, court officials will impose strict conditions like no drug or alcohol use and not allow the individual to leave the county or state.
If the defendant breaks any probation requirement, a court may revoke probation privileges and order the individual to spend the remainder of the sentence in jail. Probation is a privilege, not a right. Court officials can take it away if you fail to abide by any requirement.
Also known as community sentencing, the defendant can live in their own house following the court’s rules. Unlike probation, the individual can leave the house for work and return immediately afterward. An ankle monitor tracks the individual’s location at all times, allowing no room for error. Similar to probation, house arrest is a privilege, and judges can revoke it if broken.
Many defendants in drug cases are first-time offenders who do not risk reoffending if they receive proper treatment. Instead of spending time in jail, you can receive probation and substance abuse treatment.
If you qualify for drug court and complete the program, the court may reduce or drop your charges. First, however, you’ll have to qualify. An excellent criminal defense attorney will be able to assist you. Florida drug court programs include:
- Drug testing and monitoring
- Regularly scheduled case reviews before a judge
- Support groups and counseling
Drug courts can also be an option for other offenders as a condition of their probation. In these cases, the court won’t dismiss criminal charges upon completion.
Rehabilitation and Treatment Programs
Many addicts commit crimes to support their addiction. These crimes may include petty theft, prostitution, or trespassing. Since addicts are victims of their addiction, it serves them little use to be in jail. People with mental health issues also benefit from rehabilitation programs. Many courts recognize this and allow defendants with these problems to serve part or all of their sentencing in rehabilitation or other treatment programs.
These programs vary from halfway houses to state-funded treatment centers. Participants live on-site and are required to participate in daily meetings and counseling sessions. In some cases, individuals can leave the house for work or school. As with other alternatives to prison, if an individual breaks any of the agreed-upon requirements, a judge can revoke their original sentence and send the individual to jail.
In some minor cases, a court may order the individual to complete community service. Community service can range from picking up trash on the highway to volunteering in a homeless shelter or food pantry. Community service allows the defendant to not only avoid jail time but also give back to the community.
Consult an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida
An arrest doesn’t necessarily mean jail time, especially if you’re a first-time offender. You’ll need an expert criminal defense attorney on your side, though. That’s where the skilled attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm come in. With over 100 years of combined experience, we are a trusted legal representation source in Central Florida. Our knowledgeable attorneys will evaluate your case and discuss sentencing alternatives with you.
Call us today or complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation. We’ll fight for you!