A Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney Helping Individuals Pursue Alternatives to Jail Time
Of all the potential consequences a court could impose for a noncapital criminal offense, incarceration is the one that defendants invariably want to avoid the most. That fact should come as no surprise, as the loss of your freedom can have a profound effect on nearly every aspect of your life. A jail or prison sentence could have an impact on your relationships, your employment, and the way you interact with the world generally.
Fortunately, incarceration may be completely avoidable in many criminal cases. In fact, even in cases in which a person is accused of a crime that has a minimum sentencing requirement, there are often ways an attorney can help a defendant avoid going to jail or prison. Of course, the simplest way to avoid incarceration (or any criminal consequences, for that matter) is to force the prosecution to drop the case through legal maneuvering or to obtain a verdict of “not guilty” at trial, but doing so is not always feasible.
Even if the prosecution has a strong case and the defendant admits guilt, it may be possible to avoid jail or prison time by entering into a diversionary program that imposes other consequences in lieu of incarceration. Generally speaking, these programs are available to first-time, youthful, or nonviolent offenders whom the state has decided could benefit from a “second chance” rather than criminal punishment. In many cases, successful completion of these programs results in the case against the defendant being dropped, making them extremely attractive to many defendants.
Some of the programs in Connecticut that provide an alternative to jail time are outlined below.
The Family Violence Education Program
Individuals who are accused of crimes related to family violence may be eligible for the Family Violence Education Program. If accepted into the program, the defendant is supervised by the Family Violence Intervention Unit of the Court Support Services Division and must comply with conditions set by the court. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the court will dismiss the case.
The Community Service Labor Program
The Community Service Labor Program is sometimes available to individuals who have been accused of violating Connecticut laws regarding drug possession or drug paraphernalia and who have not been convicted of a similar crime before. The program allows people who are accepted to plead guilty and have the court suspend any sentence of imprisonment that was part of the plea agreement into which the defendant entered. The court will make participation in the program a condition of probation or conditional discharge.
In order to participate in the program, a defendant must apply to the court, and the Court Support Services Division will conduct an investigation to determine whether the defendant is eligible for the program. There is a $205 participation fee, which the court may waive if it determines that the defendant is indigent or unable to pay.
The Drug Education and Community Service Program
The Drug Education and Community Service Program is available to certain defendants who have been accused of violating laws related to the possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. The program allows defendants to participate in drug education or substance abuse treatment and community service as an alternative to going to trial. This program is available to offenders who have prior drug-related convictions but have not used a diversionary program before. The amount of time a defendant must spend in treatment or doing community services depends on whether it is the first or second time he or she is participating in the program. If the defendant successfully completes the terms of the program, the court will dismiss the case against the defendant.
The Alcohol Education Program
The Alcohol Education Program is a pretrial diversion program available to first-time DUI offenders who have not had a similar conviction in another state, used the program before, or been convicted of manslaughter in the second degree with a motor vehicle or assault in the second degree with a motor vehicle. In addition, drivers who drunkenly caused serious injury to another person are ineligible unless they can show good cause. The program consists of a 10-week educational program, a 15-week educational program, or a treatment program, as determined by the court. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the case against him or her will be dropped.
Youthful Offender Laws
Connecticut’s youthful offender laws allow some people who face certain felony charges when they are between 15 and 17 years old to qualify as a “youthful offender,” which provides the defendant with greater confidentiality than defendants normally receive in adult court. In addition, the records are erased once the defendant reaches age 21 provided he or she successfully completed any required supervision or commitment and has not been convicted of a felony at a later date. Courts also have different sentencing options for youthful offenders than they do in cases involving adult defendants.
Accelerated Rehabilitation is a program that is available to defendants who are accused of certain crimes if the court determines that they are not likely to reoffend. Participation in the program can be requested by defendants themselves but may also be recommended by the prosecutor handling the case.
If a defendant is accepted into the program, a judge will decide what conditions he or she must follow and for long he or she will be in the program. Some of the conditions a court may impose include community service, counseling, or restitution. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the case against him or her will be dismissed.
A Connecticut Criminal Defense Attorney May Be Able to Help You Avoid Incarceration
It is important to understand that acceptance into these programs is not guaranteed, even if you clearly meet the eligibility requirements. As a result, it is critical that anyone seeking to enter into one of these programs retains a lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can identify eligibility for any alternative programs and any other alternatives to incarceration in your case.
Felice Duffy is a Connecticut criminal defense attorney who has the skill and experience required obtain the best possible resolution to her clients’ cases. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, call our office today at 203-946-2000 or contact us online.