Hands of the prisoner behind bars in jail

There Are Alternatives to Going to Jail

Venessa Bornost , P.A. Jan. 11, 2023

If you’ve been charged with a crime, you may be eligible for an alternative sentencing option in Florida. Alternative sentencing options may be a great way to avoid jail time while still receiving punishment for your offense. 

However, not everyone is eligible for alternative sentencing. If you are facing criminal charges, contact my office to discuss whether you can pursue alternative sentencing in your particular case. As a criminal defense attorney at Venessa Bornost, P.A., I will review the details of your case and explain your alternative sentencing options. From my office in Dunedin, Florida, I represent individuals facing charges throughout neighboring areas, including Pasco and Hillsborough counties.  

What Is Alternative Sentencing?  

Alternative sentencing is an alternate form of punishment for individuals who have committed minor criminal offenses. Rather than jail time, the offender may receive probation or community service as their punishment. The goal of this type of sentence is not only to punish the individual but also to help them become more productive members of society by providing educational programs, counseling services, or job training. 

The primary benefit of alternative sentencing is that it provides an opportunity for rehabilitation that would otherwise not be available if the individual were sent directly to jail. Other benefits include avoiding jail time and reducing recidivism rates—the rate at which criminals re-offend after release from prison—by providing resources such as job training and counseling services that can help individuals become more productive citizens and treat their underlying problems.  

Additionally, alternative sentences can reduce overcrowding in prisons since fewer people are being sent there due to lesser sentences. Finally, they often cost less money than traditional sentences since they don’t require long-term incarceration costs like housing and food. 


In some cases, people facing criminal charges may be eligible for diversion programs that allow them to avoid criminal convictions altogether. In exchange for completing certain conditions—which may include attending classes or paying fees—the court dismisses the case and the defendant’s record is eventually expunged. In order to be eligible for a diversion program in Florida, the defendant must meet several criteria, including having no prior felony convictions, being a first-time offender, being charged with either a third-degree felony or misdemeanor, and others.  

House Arrest  

House arrest is an alternative to jail time that allows defendants to remain in their homes instead of serving time behind bars. A judge will typically impose house arrest when he or she believes that the defendant poses no threat to public safety and that there is no risk of flight from prosecution.  

In Florida, the following categories of defendants may be eligible for house arrest as alternative sentencing: probation violators charged with misdemeanor/technical violations, parole violators charged with misdemeanor/technical violations, and defendants found guilty of felonies who are ineligible for regular probation.  

Community Service  

Community service is another option available to individuals facing criminal charges in some states, including Florida. Individuals who are ordered by the court to complete community service must perform unpaid work for a non-profit organization or government agency as part of their sentence or probation requirements. This work can range from cleaning up parks or beaches to helping out at homeless shelters or food banks.  

In order to be eligible for community service, defendants must meet certain criteria set by the court, such as having a clean record. Community service is often seen as preferable to jail time because it gives individuals an opportunity to give back while also avoiding incarceration.  


Probation is typically imposed following conviction and includes conditions such as regular check-ins with a probation officer, avoiding certain people or places (such as bars), abstaining from drug/alcohol use, completing community service hours, paying fines/restitution, etc. Eligibility for probation depends on factors such as criminal history and the severity of the offense. Serious felonies generally do not qualify for probation, while first-time offenders may be granted leniency depending on their circumstances. Probation allows individuals convicted of crimes an opportunity at rehabilitation while avoiding lengthy prison sentences.  

Why You Need to Consult With an Attorney 

For individuals facing criminal charges in Florida, alternative sentencing options can provide a way to avoid jail time. Each of the above-mentioned alternative sentencing options has its own advantages and eligibility requirements.  

Hiring an attorney is a critical step for anyone facing criminal charges in Florida. An experienced defense attorney can help identify the best alternative sentencing option available in your case, as well as advise you on how to best present your case to the court. Having a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side can provide a plethora of benefits during this difficult process.  

Discuss Your Alternative Sentencing Options Today 

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Florida, reach out to my office today to learn more information and get personalized guidance. As a criminal defense attorney at Venessa Bornost, P.A., I can explain the alternative sentencing options available to you. I understand the importance of finding the best possible outcome for each client’s case. Schedule a consultation today and tell me your story.