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Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?

Law Office of Joshua S. Reed Jan. 26, 2023

The prospect of facing incarceration can be confusing and overwhelming. You may be wondering what your next steps are, how long you could be in jail, if there is any possibility to avoid jail time, and more. The good news is that there are alternatives to going to jail.  

The key here is having an attorney on your side that will fight for your rights, and help you create a plan that’s best for your unique situation. At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, our attorneys have your best interests in mind as they advocate for you from Knoxville and Farragut, Tennessee. Our services also expand to the areas of Anderson, Blount, Union, Maryville, Oak Ridge, and Clinton. Reach out to us for skilled guidance, and schedule a free consultation. Take those first steps toward a possibly better future.  

What Is Alternative Sentencing in Tennessee? 

Individuals facing the prospect of incarceration may be eligible for alternative sentencing. Alternative sentencing means that charged individuals do not have to go to prison if convicted. Instead, they can become eligible for penalties that do not entail serving prison time.  

Alternative sentences generally apply to misdemeanor charges. Additionally, judges may consider alternative sentences for first offenders and individuals with clean criminal records.  

The purpose of alternative sentencing is to give convicted individuals an opportunity at a fresh start. While alternative sentences do not erase convictions, they allow convicted parties to move on with their lives and avoid further legal issues. 

What Are the Benefits of Alternative Sentencing? 

Alternative sentencing offers the following benefits: 

  • Eased psychological burden on convicted individuals. Incarceration can take a serious toll on convicted individuals. In contrast, alternative sentencing helps convicted individuals avoid the heavy psychological burden that incarceration brings. This benefit is especially significant for those convicted of non-violent crimes. 

  • Reduced prison population. Most states already face crowded prisons. Alternative sentencing allows states to keep the prison population in check.  

  • Reduced burden on the legal system. States spend significant resources on investigations, prosecution, trials, and incarceration. Alternative sentencing allows states to cut back on spending while allowing convicted individuals to pay their debt through positive actions such as community service. 

On the whole, alternative sentencing has clear-cut benefits. That is why states and judges have increased support for alternative sentencing. 

What Are the Types of Alternative Sentencing? 

There are various types of alternative sentencing in Tennessee.  

  • Diversion. Diversion consists of interrupting a legal process due to a deal between the charged party and the prosecution. Consequently, the prosecution may dismiss charges or not bring charges forward. Diversion may apply to individuals with clean criminal records charged with non-violent misdemeanors. For example, mentally incapacitated individuals may be eligible for diversion due to their cognitive impairment. 

  • House arrest. House arrest is a common alternative to jail. Individuals not deemed a flight risk can be sentenced to house arrest. This alternative sentence generally applies to misdemeanor charges. Above all, first offenders and clean criminal history are pivotal to qualify. Please note that house arrest requires the use of a location device, such as an ankle lock or digital tracker. 

  • Community service. Community service consists of fulfilling a role within the local community as deemed by the court. Community service duties depend on the convicted individual’s community needs. In some instances, convicted parties may choose what types of tasks to do. Convicted parties must fulfill a specific number of work hours to complete their sentence.  

  • Probation. Probation is a common alternative sentence for first offenders. Probation can apply to minor drug or assault charges. However, individuals must be careful to follow their probation terms. Otherwise, violating probation can lead to incarceration. 

Alternative sentencing helps give folks a second chance. That is why talking to a trusted criminal defense attorney can help determine eligibility for alternative sentencing. The right attorney can make the difference between incarceration and an alternative sentence. 

How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help?  

The support of an experienced criminal defense attorney can play a huge role in alternative sentencing options. Professional criminal defense attorneys can work with prosecutors to get charges reduced or dismissed.  

Additionally, a trusted criminal defense attorney can work with prosecutors to clear up the specific circumstances of a crime. For example, a charged individual may have been an unfortunate victim rather than a perpetrator. In such circumstances, the prosecution may be willing to opt for a diversion. Proving the charged individual does not pose a risk to the community can help judges decide on an alternative sentence.  

It is worth noting that felony charges and repeat offenses may not qualify for alternative sentencing. For instance, an individual charged with aggravated robbery may find it difficult to get probation instead of jail time. However, even if you don’t qualify for alternative sentencing, an attorney can still fight for a shortened sentence. 

Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney 

At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, we are committed to helping folks get a second chance in the Knoxville and Farragut, Tennessee area. We fight for our clients’ rights to an alternative sentence. Get in touch with a professional criminal defense attorney to learn about eligibility for alternative sentencing.