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Does my child have any alternatives to jail time?

Many parents fear that sooner or later their child will be charged with a crime and face jail time. When that fear becomes a reality, it can easily cause panic, which is natural. The good news is that, with effective representation, your child does not have to face jail time, even in the face of a conviction.

There are several basic alternatives to incarceration, and their use is dependent on the specifics of each case. While not all alternatives are available in every situation, simply knowing what the options include can help you understand the scope of what can be sought.

All alternatives to incarceration seek to provide a punishment that will express the seriousness of the offense. Prosecutors care greatly about maintaining a high average of convictions, so many of these alternatives are used to avoid a trial and still allow the prosecutor to tally up a win.

The reality of incarceration is that there are only so many available jail facilities to house inmates, so other punishments can be quite appropriate as alternatives.

There are many ways for your child to pay for a crime

Alternative punishments basically break down into two categories - expenses and restrictions. The most basic method is through monetary fines. This idea can be clearly observed if you've ever had a parking ticket. In many cases, depending on the offense, a fine of some kind may be all that is required.

Similarly, a sentence of community service may be handed down. This is akin to a fine in that it costs time and labor, which may interfere with earning potential elsewhere. Community service is very popular, and can often be sought as an alternative. This may include many things like picking up garbage on the side of a road.

Privileges may also be restricted

The other alternatives generally deal with restrictions to privileges and rights. These function as a microcosm of jail time without the cost of housing someone in a jail cell.

Probation is the most commonly used option, which means that a convicted defendant is not incarcerated, but must regularly meet with a probation officer. The offender will likely lose some freedoms, such as the right to consume alcohol, or possibly face a curfew of some kind.

Also, house arrest may be used in place of jail time in some cases. House arrest is like a more severe form of probation - the convict is not imprisoned in a jail, but is not allowed to leave the premises of a specific home for a specified period of time, usually enforced with wearable monitoring technology.

Alternatives can be good for everyone

As we mentioned before, there are a very limited number of spaces in which to place people convicted of crimes. Often, one term of jail time being handed down means that some other inmate may see his or her sentence shortened to make room for the new inmate.

With the exceptionally high cost of not only housing a convict, but also the expense of holding a trial, there is a high likelihood that your child's charges may be a good fit for incarceration alternatives.

The best way to determine what may be available and reasonably sought is to confer with a knowledgeable attorney, one with an in-depth knowledge of the local system and what alternative forms of punishment are likely to be successful in your particular situation.

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