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Are There Alternatives to Going to Jail?

Dec. 2, 2021

Hope word on imprisoned holding jail bars, dream about freedom.In Missouri, most offenders convicted of a crime are punished through imprisonment in county jail or state prison. The idea behind imprisonment – as a sentencing option – is to protect society against subsequent crime and deprive the offender of their liberty. However, there are other alternative sentencing options that can punish the defendant fittingly for the crime committed while encouraging reform.

At Walker Law LLC, I am committed to providing experienced legal services and representing individuals who are seeking alternatives to incarceration. As a knowledgeable Missouri criminal defense attorney, I can enlighten you about the laws surrounding your unique situation and explore the alternative sentencing options available to you. My firm is proud to serve clients in Wentzville, Chesterfield, Town and Country, Cottleville, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County, Missouri.

Understanding Alternative Sentencing

Alternative sentencing comprises various forms of punishment other than imprisonment that a court can impose on a defendant who has been convicted of a crime. The purpose of alternative sentencing is to give the defendant an appropriate punishment, encourage reform, and mitigate the adverse impact of a jail/prison experience.

Benefits of Alternative Sentencing

Some of the benefits of alternative sentencing include:

  • To serve as a substitute to incarceration in state prison or county jail

  • To ensure that the offender receives safe addiction treatment, adequate support, and counseling

  • To reduce the negative effects of jail on the defendant's emotional, physical, and mental health

  • To help the offender avoid institutionalization

  • To reduce the community cost and prospects of backsliding

  • To ensure the targeted use of county jails and prison space

  • To encourage reform and help the defendant learn some vital life skills and lessons

  • To enhance the possibility of successful recovery

An experienced attorney can review the facts of your case and enlighten you about your alternative sentencing options.

Types of Alternative Sentencing

Eligibility for alternative sentencing in Missouri depends on whether you have prior arrests or convictions, the type of offense, and the severity and seriousness of the crime. Below are some of the alternative sentencing options that are available in the State of Missouri:

Diversion Program

A diversion program provides a means through which a criminal court case can be diverted out of the criminal justice system. In exchange for successfully completing the specified programs, community service hours, or classes, the prosecutor will dismiss the criminal charges against you. Some common diversion programs in Missouri include:

  • Missouri Drug Treatment Court

  • Veterans Court

  • DWI Treatment Court

  • Mental Health Court

House Arrest

House arrest is an alternative sentencing option that permits the defendant to serve their prison sentence while staying at home. The offender will wear an electronic monitoring device on their ankle (anklet). The anklet is programmed to alert authorities once the defendant under house arrest steps outside the allowable range.

Community Service

Court-ordered community service is a form of punishment or volunteer work imposed on a defendant by the judge. This alternative sentencing option requires the offender to perform a specified number of community service hours. The purpose of community service is to benefit the defendant's community for the offense committed. Some common examples of community service include:

  • Unpaid work performed within the community

  • Counseling or sponsoring other substance abusers

  • Working at a nonprofit organization or public agency

  • Organizing or creating treatment meetings

  • Speaking at an event or school about the implications of the defendant's actions


Probation can be described as a non-prison sentencing option available to offenders who have been convicted of committing a crime. Probation reduces or eliminates the time that the offender must spend in incarceration. Also, probation may be supervised or unsupervised. Regardless, it is important that you do not violate any term or condition of your probation.

There are several different alternative sentencing options for defendants facing criminal charges in Missouri or sentenced to jail/prison. Depending on the severity and seriousness of the offense committed and other surrounding circumstances, your attorney can help you find the right alternative to imprisonment that fits your unique situation.

Work With a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney

Being convicted of a crime in Missouri can have serious, immediate, and life-long implications on your quality of life, reputation, and future opportunities. However, this doesn't necessarily mean you must serve time behind bars. An experienced criminal defense attorney can explore your alternative sentencing options, determine whether you qualify, and help you make informed decisions.

At Walker Law LLC, I have devoted my career to guiding and representing clients in alternative sentencing matters. As your legal counsel, I can educate you about your alternatives to incarceration, determine your eligibility for any of these alternatives, and decide the best course of action for your unique situation.

As a former cop in the greater St. Louis area, I have a better understanding of the Missouri criminal justice system and can help you navigate critical decisions. Using my in-depth legal knowledge of the Missouri sentencing guidelines, I will fight vigorously to defend your rights, guide you through every step of the legal process, and help you negotiate a favorable plea deal.

If you want to better understand your alternatives to imprisonment, call my firm – Walker Law LLC – today to schedule a simple case evaluation. I can provide you with the right legal resources and detailed guidance you need to navigate key decisions. My firm proudly serves clients in Wentzville, Chesterfield, Town and Country, Cottleville, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County, Missouri.