Alternative Sentencing in California

40509.5 hold lawyer Mark A. Gallagher

Alternative Sentencing in California

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Avoiding jail is a goal of almost every client so alternative sentencing is always a popular topic. Due to family and work commitments a jail sentence can often involve losing more than just the time served. Alternative sentencing is not available in every case and every case is different but our office strives to find an alternative to jail whenever possible. Some of the alternatives available are detailed below. If you want to find out if we can help you find an alternative to jail, call now and ask to speak directly with me.   I have been helping clients obtain alternatives to jail for over 10 years in Orange County Courts, Los Angeles County Courts, Riverside Courts, and San Bernardino Courts.   Lawyers throughout Southern California contact me frequently for advice on how to achieve alternative sentencing for their clients.  In fact, this article was originally posted on my first website back in 2007 and it has been stolen over 100 times by various lawyers throughout Southern California to use on their own websites.   I won’t name names, but take a peek online at some of the Criminal defense lawyers in Southern California and see how many of them have reposted this content.   If you are facing jail time, ask yourself this, Do you want the lawyer who wrote the guide on alternative sentencing? Or do you want one of the lawyers that copy and pasted the guide?

Community Service
Also known as “volunteer community service”, this alternative refers to fulfilling a jail sentence through the donation of your time to a charitable organization. Besides the obvious benefit of not going to jail, this type of disposition can also allow a great deal of scheduling flexibility. Most non-profit organizations will allow you to complete your service any day of the week. They will often allow you to donate your time on the weekends or in the evenings and the hours can be split into smaller increments to accommodate a busy schedule. For some clients, the time donated to a community organization will feel less like work and more like a pleasant experience. When available, community service is usually your best option.

Home Confinement (Electronic Monitoring)
Many clients are able to avoid jail completely by serving their sentence at home. To participate in this program you must have a home telephone (land line, no cell phones or internet phones), a fairly clean criminal history, and the other people who live in your home must be willing to submit to the application process. If you can meet these requirements, home confinement may be an option in your case. The District Attorney and the Court system are well aware that home confinement is much easier to complete than a jail sentence. Due to this, it can often be difficult to obtain this type of sentence.

Complicating matters further is an intricate set of rules and regulations which vary from county to county and even from courthouse to courthouse. Application may be through the probation department, the sheriffs department, or a private agency depending on the location of your case. Mr. Gallagher has extensive experience in this area and we have helped hundreds of clients avoid jail through home confinement. When your freedom is at stake, you need someone who knows the system from the inside out to get results.

Private Jail
Private jails, or “pay to stay” programs are essentially a cross between a jail and a hotel. In some cases, we are able to arrange a disposition which allows the client to serve his/her time at a local or city jail. These local jails typically house between 5-20 inmates as opposed to the thousands held in county jails. The benefits of this program include greater security and better living conditions than the county jail. Many high profile clients such as police officers or celebrities also choose this option to safeguard their identity and protect their safety from other inmates in the county facilities. An additional benefit is that private jails will allow a client to be released during the day and go to work, and return to the jail in the evening, allowing a client to save their job while completing their sentence. Each jail sets its own rules, regulations, and pricing, with rates ranging from 70-150 dollars per day.

Work Release Programs
This includes programs such as CALTRANS, the Riverside Sheriff’s Labor Program, and Orange County’s CWP (Community Work Project), and San Bernardino’s weekender program at Glen Helen. Getting accepted into these programs is like navigating a maze. The details of your plea agreement and the use of the magic words in your application will make the difference between freedom and jail. Each program has their own set of rules and requirements for participation. To find out if one of these programs could be right for you, contact our office today.

Weekend commitments are different than a work release program. A true weekend commitment means that you will actually spend the entire weekend in jail. Although this is a less attractive alternative than the programs described above, in some cases it is the only option to avoid serving a straight sentence. Depending on the county issuing the commitment order, there may also be a fee for serving your time on the weekend program.

Rehab Programs
Many clients facing criminal charges have issues with alcohol and/or drug addiction. The court system recognizes this and provides alternative sentencing opportunities to some defendants. Programs such as PC1000, Prop 36 (PC 1210), Drug Court, and DUI Court may be a good option for the right candidate. Being accepted into these programs requires a lawyer with experience and skill. The smallest of details in your plea agreement can affect your eligibility for these programs and mean the difference between rehab and jail. Getting through these programs successfully and having the conviction erased or expunged from your record also requires follow up by your lawyer. Many lawyers will gladly take your money to get you into a program, but then leave you hanging when you have completed the program. Our office will see your case through from start to finish to make sure that if you complete your program, you receive the benefits.

There are also many cases where a client will not qualify for one of the above programs due to a technicality. In these cases, it may be necessary to complete a private program as opposed to one of those offered by the system. If the right plea agreement is drafted, you can complete a private program and then receive credit for the days you have completed in lieu of jail.

Civil Compromises
In most misdemeanor cases in California, a civil compromise pursuant to Penal Code Section 1377-1378 provides an excellent way to avoid a conviction. To achieve a civil compromise the victim is contacted by your lawyer and arrangements are made to pay for any damages or losses. The victim will then sign a release. The release is then presented to the court. In some cases the prosecution will agree to a civil compromise. In others, the Court may be willing to enter the civil compromise over the objection of the prosecution. Either way, the end result is that the criminal conviction and the accompanying sentencing issues are avoided entirely.

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