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Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2022 | Criminal Defense

According to statistics from the Prison Policy Initiative, there are about 83,000 distinctive jail admissions in Maryland every year. Incarceration remains the most common punishment option for defendants convicted of a crime in the Old Line State. The purpose of imprisonment is to protect society against crime while depriving the offender of their liberty. Regardless, there are other alternative sentencing options to help reform, rehabilitate, or caution the offender appropriately.

At BSS Law, LLC, Attorney Bradley Shepherd is devoted to providing comprehensive legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in alternative sentencing matters. He can help address your unique circumstances and seek to enlighten you about your alternatives to serving time behind bars. As a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney, Attorney Bradley Shepherd can help you decide what is best for you. The firm is proud to serve clients in Catonsville, Columbia, Baltimore, Maryland, and the entire state.

Understanding Alternative Sentencing

Alternative sentencing comprises various kinds of punishment that a court can impose on a defendant who has been convicted of a crime, asides from incarceration in jail, prison, or the death penalty. These alternative sentencing options aim to encourage reform while punishing the offender fittingly.

What Are the Benefits of Alternative Sentencing?

Here are some benefits of alternative sentencing:

  • It serves as a substitute to incarceration in county jail or state prison.

  • It encourages reform and allows defendants to learn vital skills and life lessons.

  • It helps defendants avoid institutionalization.

  • It provides offenders with adequate support, counseling, and safe addiction treatment during their rehabilitation.

  • It minimizes the community cost of running jails and prisons and saves taxpayers’ money.

  • It helps reduce the adverse consequences of jail or prison on the defendant’s mental and physical health.

  • It ensures that county jails and prison spaces are used efficiently.

  • It enhances the prospects of successful recovery and prevents risks of relapse.

Instead of sentencing the offender to prison or jail, a judge can sentence them to probation, house arrest, diversion program, or community service. An experienced attorney can evaluate the surrounding facts of your case and enlighten you about the sentencing alternatives that are available to you.

Types of Alternative Sentencing

Eligibility for alternative sentencing in Maryland depends on the defendant’s criminal history, the type, seriousness, and severity of the offense committed. Here are some of the alternative sentencing options that are available in Maryland:


In Maryland, diversion programs are available for particular defendants to avoid prosecution by diverting their cases out of the court system. The diversion programs are primarily available to first-time offenders who are facing charges for non-violent, low-level, misdemeanor crimes.

The purpose of the diversion program is to help rehabilitate and reform the defendant and make sure they do not return to the criminal justice system. Alcohol treatment/diversion, anger management, traffic safety, marijuana diversion, and theft diversion are among the available diversion programs in Maryland.

House Arrest

Furthermore, house arrest may be ordered as alternative sentencing in Maryland if the judge believes the defendant will rehabilitate better while living within their immediate community. When under house arrest, a curfew will be enforced through the use of an active or electronic monitoring system.

The defendant who is under house arrest will be equipped with an electronic monitoring device – an ankle bracelet. The monitoring device will transmit continuous signals to a central monitoring system and alert the probation department anytime the offender steps out of the permissible range.

Community Service

As an alternative to going to jail, a judge may sentence the defendant to court-ordered community service. The goal is to benefit the immediate community impacted by the defendant’s wrongful actions. Some examples of court-ordered community service include:

  • Performing unpaid or voluntary work within the community

  • Paying restitution to the injured parties

  • Working at a charity organization, nonprofit, or public agency

  • Speaking at an event or school about the implications of committing a crime

  • Counseling other drug users or substance abusers


Probation is a non-prison sentencing option that allows defendants – who have been found or plead guilty to a particular charge – to serve their punishment within the community. Depending on the surrounding circumstances, the defendant on probation may be placed under the supervision of a probation officer. You must adhere to all the terms and conditions of your probation to avoid probation violation charges.

Additionally, there are different other sentencing alternatives available to defendants in Maryland. A skilled attorney can review all of the facts of your case and help determine the correct alternative to imprisonment that best suits your particular situation.

Don’t Gamble with Your Future. Trust BSS Law, LLC for Guidance

Being convicted of a crime in Maryland can have devastating, immediate, and life-long implications on your personal reputation, quality of life, and future. Nonetheless, this doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be incarcerated. Fortunately, there are other alternative options to going to jail or prison. A highly-skilled criminal defense attorney can evaluate your possible legal options and determine your eligibility.

Attorney Bradley Shepherd has the knowledge, expertise, and diligence to guide and represent individuals who are in search of alternative sentencing options.

Attorney Bradley Shepherd will seek to craft an effective strategy to pursue the best possible outcome for your unique situation.

Contact BSS Law, LLC today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Bradley Shepherd can discuss your alternatives to imprisonment and help represent your best interests at every phase of the legal proceedings. The firm is proud to serve clients in Catonsville, Columbia, Baltimore, Maryland, and the entire state.