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Factors affecting alternative sentencing

There are a number of reasons why an Ohio resident may have committed a crime and found themselves facing a conviction. However, it is important to understand that a conviction does not always have to mean jail or a prison sentence -- there are various alternative sentences that could better serve an individual in the long run.

When someone is a first-time offender or convicted of committing a lesser offense, they could be given a suspended sentence. This means that the judge refrains from handing out a sentence. For example, when facing drug crime charges, the condition of entering a substance abuse program could be attached to the suspended sentence. As long as the conditions are met, the sentence will not be imposed. Suspended sentences do not always have to be conditional though.

Another alternative sentence is that of probation, whereby the individual remains in the community, but does not have as much freedom as everyone else. Again, this sentence is reserved for first-time or low-risk offenders. Generally, certain behavior is restricted in probation. and the court has discretion in deciding those behaviors.

Fines and restitutions are also two alternatives to imprisonment, along with community service and pre-trial diversion programs. A judge decides which sentence to impose based on the severity and type of the crime, the age of the person facing the sentence, the effect of the crime on victims, the defendant's remorse and the defendant's criminal history. In situations like this, it might be helpful if an experienced attorney presents the facts to the court to get an alternative sentence that match the crime one is being convicted of committing.

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