Los Angeles Downtown Skyline

Alternatives to County Jail Time

Diversion and Education Programs

Oftentimes the Judge will allow a person who has been convicted of a criminal charge complete a diversion program in order to avoid any jail time. A diversion program is a program that “diverts” the case out of the criminal justice system and puts it on hold pending certain conditions. The conditions include a set amount of classes, whether it is for drugs or alcohol as well as being on good behavior. If everything is met to the court’s satisfaction the court may dismiss any further sentencing or dismiss the case.

The option for a diversion program is only available to certain people that qualify. It is mostly available to first time offenders who are being charged with non violent misdemeanors. Qualifying candidate may also not have a record of probation violations or a failure to appear. Additionally, if they were previously enrolled in a diversion program and failed to complete it, the prosecutor and Judge may not be willing to allow the person to enroll a second time.

Sometimes the Judge may allow people to complete a set number of hours of community service. Usually such programs involve working with the city to complete clean up projects. Once a set number of hours are complete the person has successfully completed their obligations to the community and has finished their sentence.

The Judge and Prosecutor may in some instances offer these alternatives to jail, but an experienced DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney must ask for the option during the sentencing. Due to their extensive knowledge and expertise, they will be able to explain to you what your options are and prepare a strategic defense to give you minimal or no jail time. If jail time is a mandatory sentence due to the nature of the offense, the criminal defense lawyer may be able to argue in your favor and persuade the judge to allow you to complete an alternative in lieu of jail time.

Work Furlough

When a person has been convicted of a criminal offense, oftentimes there is a mandatory sentence for jail time. Many of those convicted are first time offenders for small, minor crimes. In cases such as these, a skilled Southern California DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney can ask the Judge or Prosecutor to complete a program in lieu of spending time in a county jail. One such program is the work furlough program in California, outlined in California Penal Code §§6260 through 6266.

The work furlough program is different from the work release program in one major way. When a person is a part of the work release program, they complete their necessary day time hours and are then released to go home until they have to report the next day. In the work furlough program, at the end of the working day, the person must report to a state monitored facility to spend the night.

Who will qualify for a Work Furlough Program?

Although it is ultimately up to the officer or Judge and Prosecutor to determine who is eligible for a work furlough program, the legislation guides the decisions by stating several factors that may eliminate someone from being considered. If a person has a history of forced escape, for example, they will not be allowed the opportunity to complete a drug furlough program. Additionally, those that have been convicted of sex or drug offenses will generally be scrutinized carefully before it is an option that is offered. Any prior criminal records will also be reviewed before the program is offered as a substitute to serving a county jail sentence.

Work Release Program

Oftentimes a main concern for many of our clients is to avoid jail time. Many offenses, however, may not be able to get reduced or dismissed and the final sentence will require some county jail time. Fortunately, through years of experience we are able to persuade the Judge that an alternative to jail time will efficiently help complete a mandated sentence. One of the ways this can be accomplished is through a work release program.

A work release program allows for a person to report to a work site and complete a full days work, usually manual labor. They then are allowed to return home for the evening and report back the next day. They continue to report to the work site until the number of days assigned has been completed successfully and to the court’s satisfaction.

What Does a Work Release Program Entail?

California Penal Code §4024.2 outlines the requiremen ts for a work release program. The work that is completed must be of a manual nature. This includes activities that will help the community or a non- profit organization. Participants are often asked to clean up graffiti, pick up trash along the highway, as well as helping the elderly or disabled by completing yard work or house repairs. There are many different ways a person may complete their required hours, as long as it is approved by the officer in charge.

Who qualifies for a Work Release Program?

Those that have been convicted of offenses that are not of a serious nature will be able to request work release as an alternative to jail time. However, the officer, Judge or Prosecutor will determine whether the person is a good candidate for the program. Often those that do not have a prior criminal record, are not a flight risk and are not being convicted of a felony or serious crime will be eligible to request the option.