Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?
Jan. 28, 2022
If you’ve recently been arrested, you’re probably concerned about what kind of penalties you might be facing. Perhaps the biggest question looming over you is whether you’ll have to go to jail. While fines and jail time are common consequences of criminal charges, there are alternatives to incarceration that you should know about. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand what options are available to you.
The Law Office of Layne C. Savage can provide skilled legal counsel and reliable representation to clients as they navigate the legal system following an arrest. The firm proudly serves those in Providence, Rhode Island, and throughout the state, as well as Boston, Massachusetts, and the surrounding areas. Call today to set up a consultation.
For any misdemeanor or felony charge, there are a set of penalties that the state has deemed appropriate for the crime. This often includes a range of jail time, fines, probation, restitution, or community service. And, while these penalties are mandated by the state, the judge often has leeway in what sentence they actually hand down.
In many cases, you may be eligible for alternative sentencing (different forms of punishment). These are typically available to those convicted of lower-level crimes, non-violent offenses, those who have very few prior convictions, or who suffer from a mental illness or drug addiction.
There are many benefits to alternative sentencing (sometimes called community sentencing), including reduced or eliminated jail time and access to programs like addiction treatment or mental health counseling. These can help rehabilitate someone who has been convicted of a crime and can reduce the likelihood they’ll commit another crime. They also are often less expensive than sending someone to jail.
There are different diversion programs available from state to state and from county to county that focus on youths and teens, mental health assistance, substance abuse, or even GED programs.
Alternative Sentencing in Rhode Island
Rhode Island offers many programs as alternatives to jail. One of these is the Adult Drug Court program for those charged with an alcohol or drug offense and who have a history of drug abuse or dependency. This program aims to reduce recidivism by providing comprehensive drug treatment. To qualify for this program, you cannot have been charged with a violent felony crime and you must show a willingness to participate.
Another alternative is the Adult Felony Diversion program (or the Rhode Island Superior Court Diversion Program). You can be referred to this program either by a judge or your attorney, although some may not qualify if they have a prior conviction of certain felony offenses such as violent crimes or high-level drug charges. This program provides a range of services like drug counseling, mental health services, education services, and community service opportunities.
One last option is home or community confinement, or what people commonly call, “house arrest.” This is often combined with other treatment programs, and you’ll be electronically monitored while you stay within a predetermined location.
Alternative Sentencing in Massachusetts
Massachusetts also has a number of diversion programs, some run by the state and some that are non-profit and community-based that tend to serve youth and juveniles. Although there are no statewide programs for juvenile diversion, there are many local programs available.
Suffolk County formed the Juvenile Alternative Resolution (JAR) Program in 2017 to help juveniles who have been charged with crimes — even serious crimes — learn skills to avoid the criminal justice system. Unlike many similar programs, the JAR program accepts juveniles with prior convictions and those charged with violent crimes.
There’s also the Essex Drug Diversion Program for adults suffering from substance abuse who’ve been charged or convicted of a nonviolent, drug-related offense, though a distribution charge may disqualify you. This program offers individual treatment plans as well as continuing support after completion.
Experience and Guidance You Can Trust
The best way to learn about your options for alternative sentencing is to connect with a local criminal defense attorney who understands the programs that are available and can advocate for you. Contact the Law Office of Layne C. Savage today if you’re in the Boston, Massachusetts, or Providence, Rhode Island, areas.