Jail Alternatives: Ways to Avoid Serving Jail or Prison Time in Clearwater, FL

Jail alternatives are becoming options for more people facing charges in the criminal justice system. In Clearwater, FL, there are multiple incarceration alternatives used to avoid serving jail or prison time.

Certainly, the first goal of a criminal defense attorney is to get an acquittal. But if a conviction is seemingly inevitable, jail alternatives exist for many individuals in the state of Florida.

What are Alternatives to Incarceration?

The alternatives to incarceration can be negotiated in a plea agreement with the prosecutor and may be utilized for misdemeanor crimes and some felony convictions, typically for crimes that are less serious and do not involve violence. Your attorney may also appeal to the judge for jail alternatives.

Here are current alternatives to incarceration:

  • Fines and restitution
  • Community Service
  • Probation
  • Treatment Programs or Inpatient Rehabilitation
  • Electronic Monitoring Program
  • House Arrest

Not all jail alternatives will be available for each case. Your attorney can discuss possible alternatives to jail time that would be relevant and/or the most appropriate options for your charge(s).

Fines and Restitution

Fines are often imposed by the courts, ordering the individual to pay a certain amount of money to the courts, state or local government, or public projects. They are used for misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct and loitering. They may also be used in nonviolent felonies as alternatives to jail for convictions for theft, property damage, and similar cases.

Restitution is another alternative to incarceration. In restitution, the judge would order you to pay the victim for financial losses related to the crime, which can also include money for property damages, back pay due to the victim for having to miss work, as well as medical bills and costs for any psychological counseling needed.

Community Service

Community service can include a wide array of activities. The judge may relate it to your specific skills and order you to help a nonprofit agency for a certain number of hours. Or the judge may instruct you to help a public agency in the community. Another possibility is an order to speak to school children about the consequences of your actions.

Pinellas County has a Day Reporting (Parks) Program that is one of the jail alternatives available to people trying to stay out of jail or prison. Individuals who may qualify for the program are typically low-risk, nonviolent offenders without a prior violent criminal record who have been sentenced to less than 61 days on misdemeanor charges, which could be performed at various Pinellas County Public Park locations.


Probation is another alternative that judges utilize to help decrease the jail and prison population. There will typically be a deferred or suspended sentence with probation, allowing the offender to complete their probation. The specific terms of probation often vary from case to case, and you may receive either unsupervised or supervised probation.

If you violate the terms of your probation, it can be revoked. The judge may then order you to serve out the remainder of your sentence in jail or prison.

Treatment Programs or Inpatient Rehabilitation

Treatment programs and inpatient rehabilitation are frequently ordered by judges for individuals with DUIs, drug offenses, or related offenses dealing with alcohol and drugs. To be included as jail alternatives and approved by the prosecutor and the judge, the treatment programs and inpatient rehabilitation are typically long-term, from six months up to two years, depending on the offense and record of the individual.

If this type of jail alternative is ordered, you must comply or face the consequences, similar to what occurs if you break probation.

Electronic Monitoring Program

The Electronic Monitoring Program, frequently referred to as work release, allows you to go to work (or school) while you are completing the terms of your sentence. It is typically given to low-risk offenders with no prior violent criminal record. Through an electronic ankle bracelet that has an integrated global positioning satellite (GPS) system, your location would be monitored around the clock, 24 hours a day. The terms of the Electronic Monitoring Program, as a general standard, are to allow travel only to work or school.

To qualify for the Electronic Monitoring Program, your sentence must be at least 30 days but no more than one year in Florida.

House Arrest

The parameters of house arrest are similar to the Electronic Monitoring System, typically allowing you to go to work or school at certain hours. This alternative in Pinellas County is monitored and enforced by a Community Control Officer that will visit your home, workplace, or school at random times. The Community Control Officer will also use telephone communications to enforce the house arrest.

When to Contact a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are seeking jail alternatives, contacting a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible after your arrest is advisable. Your attorney will perform a comprehensive analysis of your case to build the strongest possible defense.

Having an attorney that is experienced in working with the criminal justice system and has a track record of success in securing alternatives to incarceration is key to keeping out of jail or prison.

Dean Tsourakis is an experienced Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney. He is dedicated to helping people and is committed to your case each step of the way. Dean works aggressively to get an acquittal, but if a sentence is unavoidable, he has strong negotiation skills and expertise to work with the prosecutor for jail alternatives or appeal to the judge.

Everyone deserves fair representation and an attorney who works hard to avoid harsh penalties. Dean can help you put your life back together when it feels like your whole world is coming apart. You do not have to go through this alone.

Take action and call 727-785-2700 today to set up a free consultation.