Virginia Alternative Sentencing Options

jail-in-virginiaSo, you’re going to jail. Fortunately, that does not necessarily mean that you must spend the next few days, weeks, or months in a single cell at the County jail or State prison. The Commonwealth of Virginia and localities around Central Virginia offer several “alternative sentencing” options that either allow someone to maintain their employment, or offers drug or mental health treatment that is deemed to be the cause or part of the reason that the crime was committed.

Local Programs

The least restrictive jail option is to do a jail sentence on weekends, or two non-consecutive days during the week. Most Richmond area jurisdictions allow people to serve short jail sentences on weekends. These are normally limited to sentences of 30 days or less in jail. A weekend sentence usually begins on Friday night and runs until Sunday night. By law, you must be employed to get a weekend sentence. If you receive a sentence that is over 30 days, you can be eligible for work release, which allows you to leave the jail during the day to work, and return to work at night.   In some very rare occasions, a court will grant home incarceration. This is usually reserved for those with medical conditions that are difficult to care for in the jail.

The City of Richmond has a Day Reporting program that requires a person to report daily and receive need-based services based on an assessment. This is done instead of a traditional jail sentence, and may last longer than the actual jail sentence.

Alternative Programs on Felony Charges

If you have been convicted of a felony charge, you are likely facing a sentence of a year or more in a state penitentiary. There are some programs that one can avoid a straight prison sentence by completely rigorous alternatives. These include drug court, detention and diversion center, and in-patient rehabilitation.

Drug Court is run by a collaboration of Judges, probation offices, sheriff’s offices and the Commonwealth’s Attorney. It is a rigorous program that is designed to rid someone of a drug addiction. It can last as long as two years, depending on the person’s success. In some jurisdictions, Drug Court is only available for those with drug charges, or on probation violations.

Detention and Diversion is a program run by the Department of Corrections that is a non-traditional incarceration that focuses on a boot camp style incarceration in the detention center, and then a skills-based incarceration in the diversion center. These typically last 1 year to 18 months.

If you’re facing a charge that could carry incarceration, and have questions about sentencing alternatives, contact the Criminal Lawyers at Winslow & McCurry.