Legal Dictionary

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Alternative Sentencing

Alternative Sentencing is a sentencing program that is an alternative to jail. The judge may use this alternative sentencing program to deliver an appropriate punishment and one the prosecutor will accept. The judge or prosecutor will not accept just any alternative sentencing program. In California, common alternative sentencing programs include: house arrest or electronic monitoring, work release programs, rehabilitation programs, drug court and weekends in private jail. Eligibility for alternative sentencing is limited, for example,

  • The defendant must not have not committed the ‘worst' crimes and can not have a mandatory sentence imposed on him/her
  • The defendant cannot have committed numerous crimes
  • The defendant cannot have committed a serious felony, with or without the use of a weapon
  • The defendant cannot pose a risk to him or herself or the community

An alternative sentence is also called an “alternative sanction.” Click here for more information on House Arrest.