If you have been charged with a drug crime in Alabama, you should consider speaking with an experienced Alabama drug crime attorney at Alabama Criminal Lawyers about your options in regards to alternative sentencing.
Alternative sentences are a favorable option for anyone charged with their first drug offense or a non-violent drug crime. Many judges throughout Alabama find alternative sentences a more suitable option than jail. It is believed that there is a greater chance for successful rehabilitation if a drug offender is given the counseling or treatment he or she needs, as opposed to simply locking him or her up in jail.
If you accept a plea bargain, plead guilty, or are later found guilty in court, an attorney at our office will fight for an alternative sentencing program instead of jail.
While alternative sentencing is typically only available to those charged with a non-violent crime or their first drug offense, a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate an alternative sentence for you. In Alabama, there are quite a few alternative sentencing options, including:
If you are interested in learning more about your rights and options in regards to alternative sentencing, please don’t hesitate to contact us. In Alabama, the authorities tend to overly prosecute drug crimes, and often impose penalties that are unfairly harsh for the crime at hand.
We offer a free consultation, during which we can review your charges, advise you of your best options, and discuss whether or not alternative sentencing would likely apply to your case.
The government reports that in Alabama, seven percent of the state’s residents used illicit drugs within the past month. Certain individuals in Alabama who facing drug-related offenses are able to complete a drug diversion program, which attempts to rehabilitate individuals rather than simply punish them for drug-related offenses.
These programs also reduce the burden placed on jails and prisons in the state of Alabama. Drug diversion offers individuals the opportunity to avoid criminal records for these offenses. It is helpful for individuals who are faced with drug charges to understand some basic information about these programs to prepare for responding to a potential drug charge.
Individuals must remember that not all individuals will be eligible to participate in one of these programs. To qualify for a drug diversion program, individuals often need to meet criteria including being between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five, be charged with a first offense for a nonviolent crime, acknowledge wrongdoing, and show a willingness to fully participate and successfully complete the program.
Drug diversion programs are designed to be most effective for individuals who face simple drug possession charges and who are not involved in any additional criminal activity. Individuals who meet the criteria to qualify for the program must be approved by the District Attorney’s office.
After being approved, a letter is sent to the individual to conduct an interview concerning the program. The final decision regarding an individual’s eligibility for the program is made by a counselor.
Individuals must fully abide by probation terms in order to successfully complete the program. The program requires the individual to meet with a counselor for individual meetings, while some individuals might also be required to attend group meetings.
Some individuals might also be asked to attend a certain number of hours of community service to satisfy the program’s requirements.
Based upon the seriousness of the charges that an individual faces, an individual can face anywhere between six months to two years in the program. Before an individual is allowed to exit the program, the individual must either be employed or enrolled in school.
When an individual successfully completes the diversion program, the pending charges are “Dead Filed”, which means that no further actions are taken on the matter. Individuals will not have a conviction placed on their criminal record, although some government employees might be able to still view information about an individual’s involvement in the program.
Failing to complete a drug diversion program, however, can result in several significant penalties. Often individuals must face a trial that can result in a criminal record. Having a criminal record for a drug charge can have a substantial impact on one’s educational and occupational future.
Law in the state of Alabama permits the imposition of a probation period in response to certain criminal cases. Alabama has one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States, which means that Alabama uses probation less frequently than other states.
Among the several types of probation types used in the state of Alabama, criminal offenders sometimes serve supervised probation which requires regular contact with a probation officer. A Birmingham criminal defense attorney can help explain your rights and options when facing this situation.
Unlike parole, supervised probation is available to some individuals before they have served any amount of time in prison for an offense. There are several factors that determine whether an individual is eligible for supervised probation including whether the individual has a prior criminal record and the severity of the offense for which the individual is charged.
The power in determining whether an individual is eligible for probation rests within the discretion of the judge. If the judge grants probation, a probation officer must then provide the court with a pre-sentence investigation report before sentencing.
The probation officer is also responsible for providing an individual with information regarding the terms of probation and the charges that an individual will face for violation of these terms.
Supervised probation allows individuals to avoid time in prison. In addition to attending periodic scheduled meetings with a probation officer, individuals who participate in supervised probation are monitored in regards to the individual’s employment and ability to meet other requirements of the sentence.
The probation officer strives to help the individual adapt and live a lawful life. Individuals under supervised probation are often required to either attend school, work a job, or pursue employment opportunities.
In Alabama, probation often lasts a period of years, during which time the court can issue an arrest warrant if the state determines that an individual has violated any of the terms of probation.
The requirements that an individual must follow during supervised probation vary between cases. Often times, these requirements include stipulations that an individual must avoid associating with known criminals, not commit any crimes, be tested periodically for drugs and alcohol, and meet a curfew.
Individuals are also often required to take part in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program and might be required to submit to periodic searches. Often times, restrictions are placed on travel and an individual is not allowed to travel outside the state of Alabama without first obtaining approval from their probation officer.
Violation of any probation requirement often means that individuals are sent to prison.
An alternative to serving a traditional jail or prison sentence, house arrest involves an individual being confined to their primary residence. House arrest offers a much less disruptive process for individuals than being sentenced to prison. The state of Alabama also benefits from house arrest because the state saves a substantial amount of money, which would be used to monitor and house an individual in jail or prison.
Individuals who do not have a prior criminal history and are charged with a drug-related crime that was not violent in nature are often eligible for house arrest. Being a juvenile also often helps individuals obtain house arrest.
In many cases, a judge will sentence an individual to house arrest when jail is as too harsh a penalty but parole is considered to be too lenient.
During many house arrests, an individual wears an electronic monitoring device around their ankle which monitors the individual’s movement. The electronic device transmits a signal, which is monitored to determine whether the individual has either tried to leave their house unlawfully or removed the device.
Individuals are often expected to pay for the electronic device and monitoring service. Some electronic monitoring devices have alcohol or illegal drug monitoring functions, which can be used to alert authorities to whether an individual has consumed alcohol or ingested drugs.
Many forms of electronic monitoring devices, however, will be unable to determine whether an individual is drinking or using illegal drugs. Individuals who are caught under house arrest that get caught with alcohol or drugs will likely have to serve out the remainder of their sentences in jail.
House arrest does not mean an individual is necessarily always confined to their home. In some situations, an individual is permitted to either maintain employment or attend school.
Individuals under house arrest also often attend drug education classes in addition to reporting to probation about such matters. However, house arrest almost always involve curfews. While in many cases, an individual is able to be released from a prison sentence early on the basis of good behavior, individuals sentenced to house arrest should expect to serve out the entire sentence of the house arrest.
Those placed under house arrest are also subject to routine drug testing. Violations of any of the terms of house arrest can result in an individual being placed in prison to serve out the remainder of the individual’s sentence.