Avoiding Jail Time in Criminal Cases
One of the first things people tend to ask their criminal defense attorney is, “Am I going to jail?” If you are charged with a criminal offense, there is always the possibility of jail, but not a guarantee. That said, there are tactics an attorney can use that could keep you out of jail. A lot will depend on the specific facts of your case and other factors, like whether you have any criminal history and whether your offense involved harm to another person. If you are facing a felony charge, you are more likely to serve some time if you are convicted. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is less likely to face significant jail time. Your lawyer can help give you a better understanding of what could happen in your case.
Strategies for Staying Out of Jail
It is easy to look at the potential statutory punishment for the offense you are charged with and panic - up to a year in jail for a first DUI? However, most first-time offenders will not receive a punishment that harsh, especially if they are represented by an attorney. Some legal strategies that could potentially keep you out of jail include:
• Trial – Going to trial is always an option in any criminal case. In fact, in some cases where prison or jail as a punishment is required by law, going to trial can be your best option. In other times, a strong negotiation with a plea bargain can reduce the amount of time you might have to serve.
• Diversion programs - Depending on the crime you are charged with, there may be options for completing a court-supervised program in lieu of conviction. If you successfully complete one of these programs, your charge will be dismissed and you will not go to jail. However, make sure that you will be able to commit to following the court’s rules for an extended period of time. If you cannot, you may end up in jail on a probation violation.
• Mitigation - If you do wind up pleading guilty or being convicted, your attorney will have the opportunity to argue that there are factors present that make your crime less serious. If there are significant mitigating factors, the judge may be more likely to order probation over incarceration.
• Seeking dismissal - In some cases, there is simply not enough evidence to convict you, or something about your arrest or the investigation that led to it was illegal. In cases like these, there is a chance that your attorney could have your case dismissed outright.
• House arrest - In some cases, courts will agree to place a defendant on house arrest with a GPS monitor rather than sentencing them to jail. This is more likely if you have some characteristic that would make jail particularly dangerous for you (unrelated to your offense), such as being elderly or very sick.
These are just a few of the strategies lawyers use to guard defendants against the possibility of incarceration.
Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer
Will County criminal defense attorney Jack L. Zaremba has the courtroom advocacy skills needed to contest your case. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Zaremba can anticipate the prosecution’s moves and prepare to counter them in advance. Call (815) 740-4025 for a free consultation.