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After a criminal conviction, sentences take multiple forms and convictions, including alternative punishments. When we look at alternative sentences, the convictions may include different combinations of fines, probations, suspended sentences, restitution, community services, and pretrial diversion. And since the judges determine whether to impose alternative sentences, much will depend on the crime, its nature and severity, the accused’s age, his criminal history, and how the crime affects the victim.
Sometimes, a judge refrains from issuing a sentence or decides on it but doesn’t work on carrying it out. Such a practice is what may be called suspended sentence and occurs on those less severe crimes and first-time offenses. Suspended sentences can be unconditional – with no strings attached, or conditional.
With conditional sentences, the judge can simply hold off imposing or executing the punishment if (and only if) the defendant acts in a way that pleases the judge. The accused can promise to enroll in a rehab or pledge to abstain from committing further crimes.
As an alternative to serving behind bars, probation releases the criminal back to the community, with conditions. A probation often applies to first-time and/or low-risk offenders. Specific statutes determine if one is eligible for probation, albeit it’s up to the judge.
Probation comes with a host of restrictions, most notably restriction of the accused’s behavior, and if any of the requirements are violated, the court has the freedom to revoke or modify it.
For motorists, fines are part of the drill, as they come when they speed or acquire parking tickets. However, fines also accompany most grave crimes, and as expected, they are heftier. They punish the offender and compensate the state, while ensuring such an act doesn’t occur again.
It’s nearly similar with Fines, only the payments go straight to the victims of that crime, not the state. Restitutions are best offered when victims suffered a given amount of losses in finance. The payments, therefore, work to restore them financially and help attain their place before suffering.
Court-Ordered Community Services
There are instances whereby an offender is ordered by the judge to engage in community work with a reduced fine and/or incarceration. The services to be done always accompany a different form of the alternative sentence, so the services benefit society. The activity is expected to help the offender evade the cost of incarceration and hopefully learn from the work experience.
Deferred Adjudication or Pretrial Diversion
A few offenses can be dismissed altogether, usually when the defendant completes specified conditions. Deferred Adjudication or Pretrial Diversion takes the defendant out of the ordinary procedure of prosecution, so he or she can do certain circumstances. And, once the conditions are met, the case is dismissed altogether.
This form of alternative sentencing grants a defendant time to demonstrate he or she can behave well. You will find it is frequently common when trying drug offenders and first-time offenders.
Turns out, every criminal offense is unique and attracts a different type of sentencing. Lots of crimes can be punished with alternative sentences, and as an offender, you can’t tell unless you have an experienced criminal attorney in your locality. Therefore, find one if you are involved in any case, and you think you have a chance of a lesser penalty.