Alternatives to Jail and Prison for People Facing Criminal Charges


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Alternatives to Jail and Prison for People Facing Criminal Charges


June 9, 2022

When compared to other developed countries, the United States has the highest percentage of incarcerated persons per capita in the world. It’s little wonder judges and legislators have become increasingly receptive to alternatives to jail.

When representing a client, a defense attorney is often able to negotiate a sentencing deal that includes an alternate solution to jail or prison time. This alternative form of resolution is typically more likely in criminal cases involving less severe offenses or crimes that do not include violence. 

The judge might order the defendant to pay fines to the state, recompense to the complainant, perform community service hours, or any combination of these elements. We will now explain these alternatives one by one:

#1. Fine

Fines usually end up in the hands of the State, whether it's for the court, a local authority, the government of the state, a community project, or a mix of these or other beneficiaries. Fines range greatly depending on the severity of the crime commited. 

#2. Restitution

Restitution entails compensating the victims for any monetary damages caused as a result of the offense. This may include property replacement expenses, medical or counseling expenditures, and lost income due to missed work.

Alternatives-to-Jail#3. Volunteering in the community

Whenever we talk of community work, we usually think of road cleaning. However, it might also mean doing menial work at a public or nonprofit organization or employing talents the offender has, such as bookkeeping or computing work.

A judge might even order the offender to talk about the crime at a school or public gathering.

#4. Probation

A court can sentence a person to unfettered or monitored probation as a substitute to imprisonment or prison. This generally entails a delayed or conditional discharge, which can be obtained for both minor and felony crimes. Judges put restrictions or periods of probation on defendants in order for them to avoid going to jail or prison.

#5. Suspended Sentencing

Also known as Probation Before Judgment. In some instances, usually, when a Defendant has no prior criminal record, a judge may offer that Defendant probation before judgment. The Court convicts the criminal to a term of jail. However, the punishment or a part of it is suspended provided that the offender satisfactorily finishes probation.  

If a part of the punishment is suspended, the offender must serve the remaining time behind bars or prison before being freed and serving the remainder of the term on probation. 

With this type of disposition, the offender will have a conviction on his record after having completed a suspended sentence. 

The court can order the offender to serve any or all of the outstanding sentence in prison or jail if the accused breaches the conditions of his probation, as stated in the terms given by the court..

#6. Work Release

Even a person who has been condemned to prison may have some choices. A court can issue a work release ruling, allowing the prisoner to leave prison to go to his or her job and return after working hours. 

Defendants frequently request this option to avoid jeopardizing their jobs while serving time in prison. 

Offenders with a minor criminal history who are not regarded as a flight risk may be eligible for this option. Another option may permit an offender to complete his or her sentence on weekends.  Unfortunately, at the present time, most work release and weekend programs in Maryland have been shut down due to Covid-19 restrictions.


If you are sentenced or choose to take a plea deal regarding a crime, Craig M. Kadish & Associates can help you understand your sentence alternatives. 

If you discover that you have been criminally charged, consult Craig M. Kadish & Associates, criminal defense lawyers, to ensure that you are represented all through the trial proceeding.

Craig M. Kadish - Criminal Defense Attorney Maryland

Craig Kadish

With 30 years of experience and a lengthy track record of success, Craig Kadish has earned a reputation as one of the nation’s most highly sought after criminal defense attorneys. Mr. Kadish has practiced criminal law for three decades, winning an array of high-profile cases. He has had the honor of being recognized both locally and nationally for his dedication, diligence, and prowess in representing clients in exacting and innovate ways. He’s known as a leader in his field. His tenure as a criminal defense attorney and law professor has given him invaluable expertise that few other attorneys possess.

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