Man Being Sentenced in Front of a JudgeYou will have many difficult decisions to make if you have been arrested for committing a crime in Virginia. At some point, you may have to decide whether to plead guilty to the offense you are charged with committing, plead guilty to a lesser offense through a plea agreement, or take your case to trial.

You may need to make this difficult choice even if you have been falsely accused of a crime if the prosecutor has a strong case against you. When making decisions about your criminal case, you need to understand the possible punishments if you are found guilty or plead guilty to a criminal offense. Fortunately, there are sentencing options other than being sentenced to jail or prison that you may qualify for.

Who Is Eligible for an Alternate Sentencing Option?

The purpose of alternative sentencing in Virginia is to punish the individual and rehabilitate them. If they are placed in a sentencing program other than prison or jail, this allows them to keep their job and continue to take care of their families. They could also receive drug or alcohol counseling if they suffer from drug or alcohol dependency or mental health counseling for other problems.

The decision to sentence someone to an alternate sentencing program will depend on many factors, such as the crime they were convicted of or pled guilty to committing, their prior criminal record, and the details of the offense allegedly committed. If the defendant were convicted of a violent felony or has an extensive criminal record, they would not be eligible for an alternate sentencing option.

There Are Sentencing Options Other Than Jail or Prison

There are many alternative sentencing options in Virginia. Some involve incarceration, but the time in jail is limited.

It is important to discuss these alternative sentencing options with a skilled criminal defense lawyer, so you understand your options. They can also mount an aggressive defensive strategy that can make it more likely that the prosecutor would agree to recommend one of these types of sentences.

Alternative Ways You Could Be Sentenced

  • Weekend jail sentence. One option if you must serve some time in jail is to be sentenced to a weekend-only jail sentence. You would mostly have to report to jail by 6:00 pm on Fridays until Monday morning at 8:00 am. However, you would still be able to work and take care of your family during the week.
  • Probation. The judge could suspend your jail or prison sentence and place you on probation, which could be supervised by a probation officer or unsupervised. If you meet all the conditions of your probation set by the judge, you would not have to serve any time in jail or prison.
  • Work release. If you are placed on work release, you would serve a jail sentence but would be released so that you could go to your job. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements, such as completing a substance abuse program, that you would have to satisfy.
  • House arrest. You may be eligible for house arrest where you would wear an electronic ankle bracelet to track your location at all times. You could be allowed to leave your home to go to work, doctor appointments, and other activities approved by the judge. You would have to pay the fees for the ankle bracelet and to maintain it.
  • Community service. The judge could also order you to perform a certain number of hours of community service instead of serving a jail sentence. You could also have to pay fines and follow other probation rules during the time you have to complete your community service requirements.
  • Fine option program. Some counties, such as Fairfax County, have a program to allow individuals to work off their fines and court costs through performing community service. This could be a good option for you if you cannot afford to pay these costs to avoid incarceration.

Are you facing criminal charges? Our experienced criminal defense lawyers know how to aggressively defend you and can explain all possible sentencing options to you—so you know what to expect. Fill out our online form or call our Manassas office at 888-DUI-LWYR to schedule your free consultation to learn how we can assist you.