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Alternative Sentencing in California

Posted by Alan Eisner | Jan 31, 2018

Alternative Sentencing in California
Alternative sentencing in California is simply described as another option to avoid serving time in jail.

When you are convicted of criminal offense in Los Angeles, losing your freedom to a jail sentence can impact every part of your personal and professional life.

However, in some cases, alternatives to incarceration in California could give you another chance at freedom. A criminal conviction does not always mean you will have to spend time in a Los Angeles County jail or a California state prison.

If you are facing criminal charges that could result in jail or prison time, you will need an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who understands the range of alternative sentencing options and who will aggressively represent you in court.

Alternative sentences in Los Angeles are frequently the best option for the court, society, and our clients. Our lawyers help judges see you as a real person, not just another criminal defendant. Our law firm can open the door to some creative alternative sentencing options that can make difference, rather than just punish you.

So, what exactly is alternative sentencing? In simple terms, it provides you with an alternative to avoid serving time in jail. Alternative sentencing can be implemented through several programs that were put in place California lawmakers for a negotiated plea agreement by your criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor.

Alternative sentencing is typically available in misdemeanor and felony drug crime cases; however it can also be offered in other types of cases, such as theft crimes and domestic violence cases. Alternative sentencing options are often a win for you and the California criminal justice system.

It can prevent the county jails and state prisons from overcrowding, and it's also a significant cost savings to California tax payers who don't have to pay for your incarceration. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to rehabilitate and get your life in order, especially if you have a drug or alcohol addiction.

At the Los Angeles criminal defense law firm of Eisner Gorin LLP, we strongly support alternative sentencing as we know from experience many of the available options can provide you with an opportunity to receive needed assistance to get your life on track. However, alternative sentencing is not an option for everyone.

Call our lawyers to review your case and let's discuss options. Now that we have covered a basic overview of alternative sentencing, let's take a more detailed look below.

California Alternative Sentencing Requirements

Again, it's important to note that alternative sentencing is not always an option in a Los Angeles County criminal court. There are many factors the judge will consider to determine if you are eligible for an alternative sentence. These factors include: 

  • Whether you committed a violent crime, such as sexual assault, murder, robbery, and did your crime involve the use of a weapon;
  • Your criminal history of prior convictions;
  • If you are currently on probation or parole;
  • Whether you pose a risk to yourself or others.

The judge will also consider the specific circumstances of your crime. Alternative sentencing is an option for several misdemeanor offenses and a few felony crimes. Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our office for more information.

California Alternative Sentencing Options

If the judge decides to grant you some type of alternative sentencing, they have several available options. Some alternative sentencing options are at the discretion of the judge, while others are mandatory under California law.

The most common forms of alternative sentencing options include:

  • House arrest;
  • Involuntary home detention;
  • Therapy;
  • Pay to stay in private jail;
  • Electronic monitoring;
  • Community service, including Caltrans labor;
  • Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings;
  • Drug rehabilitation, such as Proposition 36, halfway houses;
  • California drug court;
  • Work release;
  • Deferred entry of judgment, penal code 1000 ;
  • Probation, supervised or unsupervised;
  • Behavioral management programs for anger issues, etc.

In addition, in some cases, our criminal lawyers may be able to negotiate a civil compromise with the victim your crime. We might be able to get them to agree to, or recommend dismissal of the criminal charges if you take certain actions.

For example, in cases of shoplifting or theft, our attorneys may get a store owner to drop charges in exchange for restitution. Civil compromise sections of the penal code can also apply to battery and hit and run cases.

Call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP to review how an alternative sentence may be an option in your case. Let's take a closer look at few California alternative sentencing options below.

Electronic Monitoring in California Criminal Cases

Electronic monitoring in Los Angeles County is a type of house arrest or home confinement program.  However, you are always required to stay in your home. Typically, electronic monitoring is enforced through an ankle bracelet that communicates with a home monitoring unit. It's not free.

You will be responsible for paying the cost of using an electronic monitoring instrument. The ankle bracelet will send a 24 hour signal to the monitoring agency. They are responsible for providing real time communication of any unusual activity in the signal.

Unusual activity includes any tampering with the monitoring equipment, travelling outside authorized location, and violating curfew.

Whether you are eligible for electronic monitoring will depend on the specific circumstances of your case and what type of conditions your criminal defense attorney can negotiate. In some cases, if the court grants electronic monitoring, you could be allowed to:

  • Go to work or school;
  • Attend counseling, drug & alcohol addiction classes;
  • Perform community service hours;
  • Go to any doctors appointments;
  • Take care of necessary family obligations;
  • Attend any other activity ordered by the court.

Many home confinement programs will also include random drug test and home visits. If you violate the conditions of electronic monitoring, the monitoring agency will notify your probation officer, and you will most likely face arrest.

The judge can revoke your home arrest and send you to a county jail or California state prison for the remainder of your sentence. In order to determine if you are eligible for electronic monitoring, call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm.

SCRAM Device

The SCRAM bracelet is a form of electronic monitoring that is often imposed as a California driving under the influence penalty. SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. It's an electronic device you wear on your ankle, which detects alcohol in your sweat.

The device checks for alcohol in your blood about once every hour, at random intervals. It saves the results and transmits a report to a monitoring service once per day. It also detects if you attempt to tamper with the device, and includes this information in the daily report.

Typically, when you are order to wear a SCRAM device, you can travel anywhere. However, you are prohibited from consuming alcohol.

Deferred Entry of Judgment – California Penal Code Section 1000 

Deferred Entry of Judgment, under California Penal Code Section 1000, is available if you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony drug possession, as long as you have never been convicted of a drug crime, or have  completed penal code 1000 probation within the past 5 years.

It will typically include 36 months of probation. However, you will be required to plead guilty to a simple drug possession charge, and the court will order you to complete a treatment program that usually lasts about 5 months.

If you successfully complete the drug program, and are not charged with any new crimes for 18 months, you will allowed to return to court, withdraw your guilty plea, and the court will dismiss your case.

Penal Code Section 1000 probation is not available if you take your case to trial. This alternative sentencing option is only available at the pretrial stage of your case. om consuming alcohol.

California Proposition 36 Probation

Proposition 36 probation is available if you are charged with a with misdemeanor or felony drug possession, and don't have any prior drug convictions on your criminal record.

Its formal felony probation and more expensive and strict than Penal Code 1000 probation discussed above. Typically, when you are granted Proposition 36 probation, you will be assigned to a Los Angeles County probation officer, whom you must report to on a regular basis.

The severity of your substance abuse problem will be evaluated and you can be ordered to an out-patient drug treatment program or even residential drug treatment.

If you successfully complete Proposition 36 probation, you will return to court and your charges will be dismissed. Unlike PC 1000, Prop 36 is available if you take your case to trail and found guilty.

Involuntary Home Detention

Under California Penal Code Section 1203.017, if a county jail becomes too overcrowded, and you are a low-level misdemeanor offender, you could be required to serve the remainder of your sentence at home. You will receive the same amount of jail time credit as if you had served your sentence in the Los Angeles County jail.

You will be monitored by an electronic monitoring device. If there is a reasonable cause that you are not in compliance with the conditions of your involuntary home detention, you will taken into custody for the remainder of your original sentence.

Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are charged with certain criminal offenses, you may be eligible for an alternative sentence. In some cases, the prosecutor's case against you is so strong; the best legal defense is to pursue an alternative sentence.

The Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP may be able to help you avoid a conviction, jail time, and minimize fines. 

Our lawyer's aggressive approach and creative defense strategies have helped many of clients stay out of jail.

Our law firm may be able to make a difference in your life by pursuing alternative sentencing strategies. We offer a free immediate response. Call our law office at 877-781-1570. 

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About the Author

Alan Eisner

Alan Eisner  Van Nuys, California (818) 781-1570 (818) 788-5033 Email Me  Alan Eisner has practiced criminal law for over 28 years in Los Angeles County . Mr Eisner is a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law. (The California State Bar's Board of Legal Specialization has designated Mr. Eisner as a...

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