Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
There are five common types of alternative sentencing in California criminal cases. These are community service, home detention, drug diversion programs (per Penal Code 1000), drug treatment programs (per Proposition 36), and probation.
As to the latter, California law allows for either:
“Alternative sentencing” is when a person completes his/her criminal sentence in the community (or at home) rather than in custody in county jail or state prison.
Some benefits of alternative sentencing include that a defendant:
An alternative sentence is where a person convicted of a crime completes his/her sentence in the community (via some type of community or state program) as opposed to completing:
These sentences are often incorporated into a plea agreement or are awarded after a guilty plea.
Alternative sentencing options work to benefit:
As to offenders, alternative sentencing programs help keep them out of jail and prison. This means they can avoid:
Taxpayers benefit from these programs as well since an alternative sentence reduces the total amount of inmates that are incarcerated.
Note that persons convicted of a crime must seek the help of a criminal defense attorney to ensure they gain entry into one of these programs.
Most defense lawyers and law firms provide a free consultation. This means people facing criminal charges can get legal advice without spending a dime.
Community service is when a convict performs unpaid work in a neighborhood or community. The work is done to avoid incarceration or a fine.
Judges typically have broad discretion in terms of deciding what type of community work a defendant has to perform. But note that any community service that gets imposed must:
Community service is normally not available to defendants convicted of a serious felony or a violent crime.
Note that community service is different from work release furlough. The latter is a correctional program that allows certain inmates to be transitioned into a county-based institution and:
Home detention is when an offender gets confined to his/her home rather than a jail or prison. This alternative sentencing option is sometimes referred to as “house arrest” or “electronic monitoring.”
In addition to confinement at home, a judge may require a defendant to adhere to certain terms and conditions, like:
Depending on the facts of a case, a judge may allow a defendant to perform the following while on house arrest:
Penal Code 1000 PC sets forth California’s pretrial diversion program for low-level drug crimes (for example simple drug possession). Formerly known as deferred entry of judgment (“DEJ”), the program allows eligible defendants the opportunity to have their charges dismissed if they successfully complete drug treatment.
Dismissal means that the defendant avoids a criminal record.
Initially, the prosecuting attorney will review the defendant’s case. If the defendant appears eligible for pretrial diversion, the prosecutor will advise the defendant and his or her attorney in writing.
Proposition 36, more commonly referred to as “Prop 36,” is a criminal sentencing initiative that was passed by California voters on November 7, 2000. Prop 36 requires that eligible non-violent drug offenders serve their time in a drug treatment program instead of in jail or prison.
Note that there are three major differences between Prop. 36 and Penal Code 1000 pretrial diversion:
Probation is an alternative to jail in which an offender serves most, or all, of their sentence under court supervision instead of in custody.
California has two types of probation. These are:
Under probation, an offender is subject to several terms and conditions imposed by a judge.
In some cases, specific probation conditions are required by law. For instance, people convicted of certain California crimes of domestic violence must complete a batterer’s program of treatment.
If a defendant fails to comply with a probation condition, the judge can:
Some common conditions of misdemeanor and felony probation can include that the defendant:
 Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition – “Community Service.”
 See California Penal Code 6260 PC.
 California Penal Code 1000(3)(d) PC.
 See California Penal Code 1210 PC.
 See, for instance, California Penal Code Section 1203.3a.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.