Alternative Sentencing in Alameda County and California
When facing a criminal offense in Alameda County or elsewhere in California, the consequences of a conviction can be felt across virtually every aspect of your life. However, if you can obtain alternative sentencing, you may avoid some of the more severe penalties that come with a criminal conviction, including prison or jail time.
Alternative sentencing in Alameda County and California is only available for some cases. You may need the legal help of a respected criminal defense attorney in Oakland, CA at Morris Law to help you meet the qualifying requirements so you can enter one of these programs and put the stress of this experience behind you. Contact our office today at 510-225-9955 to schedule your free consultation and learn how we can guide you through the criminal court process.
What Are the Benefits of Alternative Sentencing in California?
The benefits of alternative sentencing in Alameda County are undeniable. First, you can get your charges reduced to a lesser offense or maybe dismissed altogether. That way, you will not have a criminal conviction on your record. If you have a criminal conviction following you, it could be difficult for you to find gainful employment and safe housing and put this experience behind you.
Other benefits of alternative sentencing include the following:
- An increased chance of rehabilitation.
- Getting the addiction help you need.
- Reducing the likelihood of reoffending.
- A lower cost to the community.
Common Types of Alternative Sentencing in Alameda County
Alternative sentencing can take multiple forms. However, some of the most common include:
- Drug diversion programs
- Proposition 36
- Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program
- House arrest and community service hours
Drug Diversion Programs
Under California Penal Code § 1000, first-time drug offenders may be eligible for a drug diversion program. However, not all drug offenses will qualify for a drug diversion program. In fact, if you are charged with any drug offense involving the intent to sell, you will not qualify for a drug diversion program.
The offense in question must also have been nonviolent. If the drug offense in question involves the use of a firearm, you may not be eligible for a drug diversion program. However, your defense attorney may be able to work with the prosecutor in your case to get your charges reduced to a lesser offense so you can qualify for a drug diversion program.
Common charges that may qualify for drug diversion programs in Alameda County and California include:
- Cultivation of marijuana for personal use under California Health and Safety Code 11358
- Possession of a controlled substance under California Health and Safety Code 11350
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance under California Health and Safety Code 11550
California Proposition 36, also referred to as Prop 36, requires drug treatment sentencing as opposed to jail or prison time for certain types of criminal offenses. Generally, those charged with first and second nonviolent drug offenses will be given the opportunity to enter a drug rehabilitation program as opposed to facing time in jail.
To qualify, defendants must be charged with a nonviolent drug possession offense with zero allegations of threatened violence or use of violence. Prop 36 only covers possession charges. Possession of any drug listed in the Federal Controlled Substances Act qualifies.
Certain drug offenses that will not qualify for Prop 36 in California include:
- Possession of marijuana for sale under California Health and Safety Code 11359
- Transportation of a controlled substance for sale under California Health and Safety Code 11352
- Possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm under California Health and Safety Code 11370.1(a)
Alameda County Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program
Sheriff’s Work Alternative Programs in California and Alameda County are an alternative to jail or prison where low-risk offenders can perform work responsibilities for between eight and ten hours in lieu of jail time. Participants may be eligible if they have been charged with a misdemeanor offense.
Probation in California
Two types of probation may be available. Formal probation means a probation officer will supervise you. You must meet with your probation officer regularly for 3 to 5 years. You must also adhere to specific criteria, which might include abstaining from drugs or alcohol, obtaining gainful employment, and completing community service hours, to name a few.
You could be placed on informal probation if you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense. Here, you may be supervised by the court instead of a probation officer. You will still be expected to participate in group therapy, community service, and other program requirements or risk being subject to additional penalties associated with your conviction, such as fines and jail time.
House Arrest and Community Service in California
By placing defendants on house arrest or ordering community service, it costs taxpayers significantly less than it would to send defendants to jail or prison. House arrest means you will be confined to the limitations of your property for a specified period of time.
You may have the right to leave the premises during specific hours with permission from the court. You may also need to complete community service requirements before the charges against you can be dismissed.