In a criminal case, there are numerous possibilities that you may receive when it comes to sentencing. You may receive jail time, a suspended sentence, probation, or a combination. Probation is a common sentence handed down to first time offenders; however, it has become more common for individuals to forgo probation in exchange for jail time. 

Understanding Probation

Probation is intended to keep offenders out of jail, but it also comes with a slew of terms and conditions. Offenders must adhere to these conditions for the stated period of time, or they risk having to serve jail time anyway. For some offenders, the terms of probation are the deal breaker that make them opt for jail time.

Some of the terms associated with probation include regularly reporting to a probation officer, sticking to travel restrictions, undergoing drug testing, staying away from certain people, and avoiding drugs or alcohol. 

Usually, there is a monthly fee for individuals who are on probation, and the offender is responsible for paying this fee. Additionally, the offender has to cover the costs associated with any required drug screenings. For some, the costs associated with probation wind up being more than the fines or restitution they would pay if they opted for jail time. 

Probation or Jail?

When deciding between probation or jail, you have to take a few things into account.

The first item to contemplate is the effect of jail time on your personal and work life. If you go to jail, you will miss out on time with your friends and family. Jail also negatively affects most relationships due to the time apart. Your employer may not be willing or able to hold your job while you are in jail.

Next, do some soul searching to decide if you are willing to make the sacrifices to stick to your probation terms. For example, some individuals are not willing to stop seeing certain people or to cease all drug and alcohol use. If you know you cannot or will not stick to your probation, it may be best to choose jail time instead.

A third component to consider is which option is best for you emotionally. Some offenders find that probation causes them to constantly drudge up the memories and negative feelings associated with their arrest. For these people, going to jail lets them get their punishment out of the way so that they can get a fresh start.

Still others are emotionally devastated by the idea of going to jail and will do everything they can to avoid doing so.

There is no right answer to whether you should choose jail time or probation. Instead, take into account your personal situation to decide which is best for your rehabilitation. For more information, contact a business such as Alexander & Associates, P.C.