While many people facing criminal charges may find themselves getting a prison sentence, this is not always the result of a conviction. Depending on the type of the crime one has committed, the severity of it, the defendant's criminal history, their age and the effect of the crime on others, different types of sentences could be pursued. Alternative sentencing can be especially beneficial when it comes to dealing with minor drug crimes, as an Ohio defendant could get treatment for an addiction rather than penalized for it.
One of the options available, known as pretrial diversion, is taking the defendant out of the ordinary course of prosecution to get the charges dropped if certain conditions are met. For minor drug offenses, as mentioned above, this could mean counseling and probation, along with the condition that the individual stay out of trouble. This gives the defendant the opportunity to demonstrate that he or she can behave responsibly. If the requirements are met, the charges could end up being dropped.
A judge can also issue a suspended sentence as an alternative to imprisonment. In this instance, the judge can either refrain from handing down a sentence or hand it down but not carry it out. Again, only first time offenders or those accused of committing less serious offenses may see this sentence and it could include conditions such as enrolling in a substance abuse program.
Suspended sentences could also be unconditional, meaning it comes with no strings attached. Similarly, the defendant could get probation, which means he or she would be released back into the community but would not have the same level of freedom as an ordinary citizen-there would be certain requirements that would restrict their behavior.
A number of factors affect a judge's decision and discretion in awarding a sentence. Arming oneself with the necessary facts and a strong legal strategy that demonstrates remorse and the benefits of an alternative sentence could be one way an experienced attorney could help an Ohio resident.