TYPES OF ALTERNATIVE SENTENCING

Attorney James K. Minick

Attorney James Minick — The NC DWI Guy

When an individual is convicted of a crime, they must then be sentenced to a punishment by a judge. Normally, the judge has a lot of discretion in determining what type of punishment to convey and how it will be enforced. Due to the amount of convictions obtained each year and the overcrowding of jails and prisons, some judges are starting to rely on alternative sentencing as opposed to traditional punishments. But what is alternative sentencing

Alternative Sentencing

Due to the inefficiency and lack of rehabilitation that a prison or jail sentence provides, a recent trend in the criminal justice system is alternative sentencing. Alternative sentencing is when the judge sentences a criminal defendant who has been convicted of minor and/or non-violent crimes to an irregular sentence. This alternative sentencing not only helps reduce the strain on prisons and jails, but also helps produce a more favorable outcome for the individual who has been convicted of the crime.

Examples of Alternative Sentences

Generally, an alternative sentence can be anything that the judge thinks of that is not a normal prison or jail sentence. Typically, this just means some form of probation coupled with a fine and/or community service. However, some judges have become creative and have used some of the following alternative sentences:

  • Requiring the individual to give a lecture or teach a class about the consequences of a criminal conviction;
  • Requiring the individual to stand on a street corner or sidewalk wearing a sign that states what they were convicted of;
  • Requiring the individual to attend classes or lectures given by victims of the crime with which the defendant was convicted; or
  • Requiring the individual to serve jail or prison time only on weekends and holidays;

Typically, a judge will work with both the prosecutors and the defense attorneys to facilitate the sentencing and to make sure the sentence is fair with both sides. Asa result, defense attorneys will often advise their clients to take the alternative sentencing instead of a traditional jail or prison sentence. However, judges have a wide range of discretion in deciding whether to consult with either side or to just unilaterally impose the sentence.

Challenging Alternative Sentencing

In some situations, a defendant will not want to go through with an alternative sentence due to the possibility of causing humiliation or embarrassment. As such, defendants sometimes attempt to challenge alternative sentencing as violating the 8th Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment. However, there is no clear-cut definition of what cruel and unusual punishment is. As such, most alternative sentencing is found to be valid as long as the alternative sentence does not produce any long term or detrimental effects.

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If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can help zealously defend your case. Contact Us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.

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