If you face criminal charges in Ohio, the prospect of time in jail may seem terrifying. However, you should know that the criminal justice system allows alternatives to incarceration in some criminal cases. Ohio courts may order probation, community service, fines, and other forms of restitution instead of time in prison.
Matthew C. Bangerter, criminal defense attorney and the founder of The Bangerter Law Office in Willoughby, OH, lists several alternatives to prison time in Ohio and explains how a skilled criminal attorney can help you avoid jail.
Incarceration Alternatives in Ohio
Depending on each case’s circumstances, criminal law courts in Ohio may release convicts on probation or allow them to participate in certain local, state, or federal programs instead of spending time in prison. These measures often prove more effective in helping people rebuild their lives and become productive members of society.
A common alternative to prison time in misdemeanors and felony cases, probation involves a suspended or deferred sentence. A defendant under probation must comply with certain terms, which often include avoiding drugs and alcohol, staying within the state or county borders, and obeying all laws. A new arrest or a violation of probation terms may lead to incarceration.
Probation can be supervised or unsupervised. Unsupervised probation does not require reporting to a probation officer and is more common for first-time offenders in misdemeanor or minor felony cases. Supervised probation is typically stricter and may require regular contact with a probation officer, complying with curfews, and random drug tests.
Some offenders may serve their prison sentence while living at home under electronic monitoring. The monitoring usually involves an ankle bracelet device, which connects to a supervision center and alerts authorities if the offender exits a pre-set range.
The permissible range under house arrest typically includes the offender’s home, plus a small, limited area like the driveway. It is also possible to program monitoring devices to allow defendants to go to work and return home before a certain hour. Like with probation, violating house arrest rules can lead to incarceration.
Community service refers to unpaid work the offender does instead of a prison sentence or fine. It may be a sentence of its own or part of probation conditions.
Community service usually involves working for nonprofit or civic organizations. Offenders sentenced to community service may perform a wide range of tasks, from janitorial work to volunteering in animal shelters. Some offenders may also do educational work by speaking about their crime in schools—e.g., an OVI offender may speak to teenagers about the importance of avoiding alcohol while driving.
Losing their employment is a major concern for many defendants. Some offenders who must serve prison time may qualify for work release, an arrangement that allows them to leave jail for several hours every day to go to work. This alternative to full-time incarceration is usually available to trusted, low-risk offenders with a minimal criminal record.
Treatment or Rehabilitation Programs
Drug and sex offenders, as well as defendants suffering from certain mental impairments, may replace some or all of their prison sentence with court-approved rehabilitation programs. These programs can be residential or non-residential and typically last from several months to two years.
Depending on the specific program, participants may have to live on the premises, participate in therapy, comply with supervision, train in life skills, enroll in school, or look for suitable employment. Leaving the program or failing to comply with its requirements may cause the judge to revoke the sentence and mandate a prison term instead.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You Stay Out of Jail
Working with the right criminal defense attorney may help you avoid or shorten prison time, even if a criminal conviction is inevitable. A private lawyer who focuses on your case will deliver a far more efficient defense than underpaid and overworked public defenders.
Some tactics a criminal lawyer may use to keep a defendant out of jail include:
- Presenting compelling extenuating circumstances, e.g., the defendant’s mental impairment or lack of threat to society.
- Trying to reach a plea agreement with the prosecution.
- Appealing an illegal or excessive sentence.
Bangerter Law Office: Criminal Attorney Near Me in Cleveland Metro
At Bangerter Law Office, we defend good people accused of bad things. Matthew C. Bangerter, Esq., an Experienced and Certified Northeast Ohio Criminal Defense Lawyer formerly worked as an Assistant Prosecutor in Lake County Ohio. His invaluable experience gives him powerful insight into how the other side works. As your criminal defense attorney, he will leave no stone unturned to preserve your liberty and protect your future.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.