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Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?

The Handley Law Center Dec. 6, 2023

Facing criminal charges can be an overwhelming, frightening experience. The prospect of going to jail in Oklahoma—or watching a loved one face incarceration—can be a daunting one. You may be unsure of your next steps at this point.  
We understand your situation—but we want to assure you that there may be alternatives to serving time behind bars. According to the National Institution of Corrections, by the end of 2020, the community corrections population in Oklahoma consisted of 23,027 individuals on probation and 2,237 individuals on parole.  

At The Handley Law Center, our team is dedicated to striving for fair outcomes for our clients. Our goal as criminal defense attorneys is to guide you through these alternatives and provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions for your specific circumstances. At the end of the day, we truly believe that every single person deserves to have their rights protected and their story told. Set up a consultation with us to get started. 

Alternative Sentencing in Oklahoma

 Let's explore the various alternatives to incarceration that may be available to you in Oklahoma and how they can benefit you or your loved one. 

Alternative sentencing refers to the use of penalties other than traditional incarceration for those convicted of crimes. These alternatives can be beneficial not only for the accused but also for the criminal justice system and society as a whole. They offer an opportunity for individuals to rehabilitate and reintegrate into their communities. Ultimately, these alternatives offer an opportunity for individuals to start over and move forward. 

Here are some key benefits of alternative sentencing: 

  • Rehabilitation: Alternative sentencing programs often focus on addressing the underlying issues that may have led to criminal behavior, such as substance abuse or mental health problems. This approach aims to help individuals become law-abiding citizens. 

  • Reduced Overcrowding: The prison system can become overcrowded, leading to challenges in managing and rehabilitating inmates. Alternative sentencing helps alleviate this issue and provides a more efficient use of resources. 

  • Cost Savings: Alternative sentencing can be more cost-effective than traditional incarceration, as it reduces the burden on the state and taxpayers. 

A local attorney can help you fully understand the benefits of alternative sentencing, as well as the specific alternative sentencing options potentially available in Oklahoma.

Kinds of Oklahoma Alternative Sentencing Options

Let’s start with diversion programs. Diversion programs are designed to divert individuals away from the criminal justice system, particularly for first-time or low-level offenders. The goal is to provide an opportunity for rehabilitation and to avoid the negative consequences of a criminal conviction. 

The following are some types of diversion programs: 

  • Pre-Trial Diversion: This program allows individuals to complete specific requirements, such as community service or counseling, in exchange for having their charges dropped. 

  • Drug Court: Drug courts focus on individuals with substance abuse issues. Participants are required to complete a substance abuse treatment program and meet other program requirements as an alternative to jail time. 

  • Mental Health Court: Similar to drug court, mental health court addresses individuals with mental health challenges. Participants are connected with mental health services and receive support to manage their condition. 

Who Qualifies for Diversion?

Eligibility for diversion programs in Oklahoma varies depending on the nature of the offense, the individual's criminal history, and other factors. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine if diversion is a viable option in your case.

Is House Arrest an Option?

House arrest, also known as electronic monitoring or home confinement, allows individuals to serve their sentences in the comfort of their own homes while being closely monitored. Types of house arrest include: 

  • Global Positioning System (GPS) Monitoring: Offenders wear an ankle bracelet equipped with GPS technology that tracks their movements, ensuring they remain within a designated area. 

  • Curfew-Based House Arrest: Individuals are required to stay at home during specific hours, typically during the evening and overnight. 

Who Qualifies for House Arrest?

House arrest is often an option for non-violent offenders or individuals with minimal criminal histories. It may also be suitable for those who have jobs, family responsibilities, or other compelling reasons to remain in their homes. 

Community Service As a Jail Alternative

Community service is a sentencing option that allows individuals to give back to their communities by performing unpaid work. It serves as an alternative to incarceration and helps offenders make amends for their actions. Some options could include: 

  • Court-Ordered Community Service: The court could assign specific tasks or organizations for individuals to volunteer with, such as cleaning public spaces, working in local charities, or assisting in community events. 

  • Restorative Justice Programs: These programs bring offenders face-to-face with their victims and could potentially offer an opportunity for reconciliation and restitution. 

Who Qualifies for Community Service?

Eligibility for community service sentencing depends on the nature of the offense and the judge's discretion. It is often considered for non-violent offenses and first-time offenders. It’s vital to contact your lawyer for more information given the specifics of your case. 

Probation in Oklahoma

Probation is a legal arrangement that allows individuals to serve their sentences in the community under the supervision of a probation officer. It may include various conditions, such as regular check-ins, drug testing, and adherence to certain rules. 

The following are a few different kinds of probation: 

  • Standard Probation: Offenders must follow court-ordered conditions and report to their probation officer as directed. 

  • Intensive Supervision Probation (ISP): This form of probation involves even more frequent supervision and stricter requirements, often for high-risk offenders. 

  • Deferred Sentence Probation: In some cases, the court may defer sentencing while the offender completes probation successfully. If the terms are met, the charges may be dismissed. 

Who Qualifies for Probation?

Probation is an option for a wide range of offenses—but again, the eligibility criteria can vary. It’s commonly considered for first-time offenders and those convicted of non-violent crimes. 

Dedicated Counsel Every Step of the Way

In the face of criminal charges, it is essential to explore all options to avoid jail time or reduce incarceration entirely. Alternative sentencing can provide a path towards rehabilitation, reintegration, and a brighter future.  

When you choose our law firm, you are not just hiring an attorney; you are gaining a dedicated advocate who will fight for your rights and explore every available avenue to help you move forward. Reach out to The Handley Law Center for a consultation to discuss your case, whether you live in Custer, Blaine, Kingfisher, Canadian, or Caddo Counties. We are here to answer your questions, address your concerns, and provide you with a comprehensive understanding of your options.