How Do I Avoid a Jail Sentence?
Defending the Case
The best way to avoid jail is to avoid a conviction by getting the case dismissed, either by filing motions to suppress or going to trial and getting a not guilty verdict from the jury. However, not every case is gifted with good defenses, so we have also developed ways to avoid the most serious consequences, including jail. Over the past 10 years, our attorneys have handled thousands of DUI and criminal cases across the state, and only a very small percentage of our clients ever serve time in jail.
In order to get a good plea bargain in any criminal case, it is important to hire an experienced and aggressive attorney who focuses on criminal cases and can gather evidence, identify and raise any available defenses, and file motions in order to get a better plea bargain or get the case dismissed. Likewise, an experienced and aggressive DUI attorney can also be effective at negotiating a favorable plea bargain. The goal of any plea bargain is to avoid as many consequences as possible. By identifying and pointing out potential defenses or other deficiencies in the case, a skilled defense lawyer can use these points to persuade the prosecutor into agreeing to dismiss charges or significantly reduce the charges in order to avoid the most serious consequences, such as driver license suspension, jail, fines, conditions of probation, and a conviction for DUI. Our reputation for being skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorneys who are not afraid to defend even the most serious or difficult cases by filing motions and taking cases to trial allows us to negotiate plea deals that other attorneys simply do not get.
If the Defendant is convicted either at trial or by way of entering a plea as part of a plea bargain, there are obviously many factors that must be taken into account by the Court in determining whether or not a jail sentence is an appropriate sanction. First is the nature of the offense charged, but more important, the nature of the offense for which the Defendant has been convicted. The level of the offense is also very important (i.e., whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony). Second, the Defendant’s criminal history plays a large role in the Judge’s sentencing decision. The more prior criminal convictions and the more serious those convictions are, the more likely it is that the current offense will be met with a jail sentence. Finally, the Defendant’s efforts prior to sentencing to rehabilitate themselves and to make amends for their crime are also critical to the Judge’s decision whether to impose jail or to suspend the jail or prison sentence and place the Defendant on probation.
The Nature of the Charge
When deciding what type of plea bargain to push for in a case, it is important that your attorney be familiar with the potential consequences to any charge considered, including criminal consequences such as any minimum mandatory jail sentence, mandatory fines, and statutory restrictions regarding probation and treatment. Likewise, it is critical that your attorney be familiar with any potential collateral consequences, including but not limited to driver license suspensions, immigration issues, professional licensing, reporting requirements, and employment issues.
When negotiating a plea deal, it is critical to try to negotiate the dismissal or reduction of as many of the charges as possible and to try to convince the prosecutor to agree to let you plead guilty to the charge or charges that will result in the most lenient consequences while keeping in mind any issues specific to the Defendant.
The Degree of Offense
Obviously, the more serious the offense, the greater the likelihood that the Defendant will be sentenced to jail. For example, a Defendant being sentenced on a felony conviction is much more likely to be ordered to serve jail time than a Defendant being sentenced on a misdemeanor; therefore, it may be best to negotiate a plea bargain to several misdemeanor charges than to one felony charge.
A skilled criminal defense attorney will place his or her client in the best light possible at sentencing, and nothing puts a more positive spin on things than pre-sentencing rehabilitation. In many circumstances, pre-sentence rehabilitation involves drug and alcohol treatment if the offense charged involved drugs or alcohol, or if drugs or alcohol played a part in the Defendant’s situation that led to them committing the offense. However, presentence rehabilitation is not limited only to drug and alcohol treatment. Theft classes, cognitive restructuring/thinking errors, anger management, couples counseling, and mental health therapy are only some of the rehabilitative efforts that can be undertaken not only to improve our client’s own personal situation, but also to demonstrate to the prosecutor and the Court that the client is willing to take the necessary steps to address whatever behavioral problems resulted in his or her offense and to ensure that the client is not likely to reoffend in the future.
Pre-sentence rehabilitation and compliance with treatment program rules and objectives also demonstrates to the Court that the client is a good candidate for probation. Our firm has relationships with treatment programs and counselors throughout the state, and we take the time necessary to work with you to point you to the treatment that best fits your own personal situation. As your attorney, we feel we have a two duties to you our client: The first is to assist you in resolving your legal situation; the second is a personal duty to you to assist you in correcting any issues that led to your committing the offense and returning you to a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Alternatives to Incarceration
In addition to providing rehabilitation to the offender, Courts are responsible to impose an appropriate punitive aspect to the sentence. Most people equate punishment to fines and jail time; however, under the rehabilitative theory of corrections, the punishment aspect can be accomplished through other means than simply throwing an offender in jail. In many cases, we can convince the prosecutor and the Court that there is a more productive form of punishment that can be imposed. Alternatives such as community service, home confinement, ankle monitoring, and work release can be equally effective at providing a punitive aspect to the sentence while giving the offender the benefit of a community-based sanction that may allow them to keep their job and provide for their families. Our attorneys are very familiar with these alternatives, and in many cases, we assist the client in arranging for alternatives to incarceration prior to appearing at sentencing to give the Court an option other than jail. By being well versed in alternative sanctions and being prepared, we are very successful at eliminating or significantly reducing our clients’ jail sentences.