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Alternative Sentencing

Alternative sentencing is a court ordered judgment other than incarceration and the Alternative Sentencing Bureau was created to facilitate the "alternative" sentencing for qualifying offenders.   Alternative sentencing programs operate to help communities as well as offer defendants who make a serious commitment to turn their life around the opportunity to do so.

Who is Eligible for Alternative Sentencing?

  • The defendants who have not committed the ‘worst' crimes and do not have a mandatory sentence imposed on them.
  • Defendants who have not committed numerous crimes.
  • Defendants who have not committed a serious felony, with or without the use of a weapon.
  • Defendants who do not pose a risk to themselves or the community.

Work Release, Home Incarceration and Non-consecutive sentences are options in jail sentencing. Each program is slightly different, but all three are designed to give individuals an opportunity to maintain employment while serving a jail sentence.  The programs must be authorized by the sentencing judge. The Judge or the Sheriff can place further restrictions on the participants for each program.

Each Work Release and Home Incarceration participant is required to sign a contract outlining the rules and regulations of the programs. If contracts are violated in any way the participant will be charged institutionally. If  found guilty, the participant may be removed from the program and the sentencing judge will be notified.

The Idea Behind Alternative Sentencing is offenders are eligible for Sentencing Services if they are eligible to receive an Intermediate punishment based on their class of offense and prior record level and they face an imminent and substantial threat of imprisonment. 

Sentencing Services programs develop comprehensive, community-based sentencing plans for eligible offenders.  Plans include results of assessments and background investigations, as well as recommendations for the judge to consider such as: 

  • Special probation (split sentence) – short imprisonment or weekends in jail
  • Probation – regular, intensive or electronic house arrest
  • Counseling – drug, alcohol, mental health, consumer credit
  • Volunteer community service
  • Victim restitution
  • Employment or vocational training
  • Education – college, high school or literacy
  • Structured Residential Treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Work Release Treatment
  • Family Treatment

Even in the case of a conviction or a plea bargain, a skilled defense attorney tries to obtain alternatives to jail for their clients. Alternatives to jail include:

  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Work Release
  • Work Furlough
  • City Jail
  • Alcohol or Drug Rehabilitation
  • Sober Living

An experienced criminal attorney fully explores each of these alternative sentencing options, and bases his goals on the individual facts of each case.

Electronic Monitoring: Also known as "House Arrest." This involves wearing an ankle bracelet that electronically monitors the whereabouts of the wearer. What most people do not know is that the wearer can usually go to work or to school, but must be home at an appointed time.

Work Release: This involves working at a site determined by the Probation Department. You work during the day, but get to go home at night to sleep.

Work Furlough: This allows you to keep your job and go work and make a living during the day. At night, however, you sleep in a dormitory-style facility, and then go to your own work once again during the day.

City Jail: Usually costs money, but typically a much more pleasant experience than jail. Also known as "private jail."

Alcohol or Drug Rehabilitation: Sometimes a DUI or drug related arrest is merely the symptom of an underlying addiction issue. For those cases, rehabilitation is a much more attractive option than jail. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will know how to obtain this type of relief for his clients. The defense attorney should stress to the prosecution and the judge that this is a much better solution than jail, and in cases of addiction, a superior alternative.

Sober Living: These are houses, both for men and women, where all of the residents are sober and must maintain sobriety to stay in the house. The structure of each house is different, but residents are usually required to attend a 12-Step meeting daily, participate in house groups, and perform chores. For those people that are multiple offenders and have not responded to past attempts at treatment, this environment may greatly improve the quality of their life. This can often be utilized by skilled criminal defense attorneys to help their client avoid lengthy jail sentence

Call Danny Sheena today to start protecting your rights.

Danny M. Sheena, P.E.

The Sheena Law Firm
2500 West Loop South, Suite 518
Houston, Texas 77027
(713) 224-6508 - Office
(713) 225-1560 - Fax

Email: [email protected]


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