Terri Daniel, Attorney at Law, PLLCTerri DanielAttorney at Law, PLLC

Alternative penalties can help those addicted to drugs or alcohol

Texas is one of a few states that now employ the use of alternatives to incarceration for some cases. There have been many reforms throughout the state, and there has been a realization that imprisonment itself is not always the best solution for those who have violated the law.

As someone who has offended or who faces charges, it's important to know your full rights in regard to alternatives to incarceration, especially if you are struggling with substance abuse. It's a well-known fact that those struggling with substance abuse need treatment and are less likely to reoffend if they receive treatment rather than incarceration.

Did you know that Texas incarcerates close to 147,000 people every year? In many of those cases, the crimes were nonviolent, and people would be better served with alternatives, such as substance abuse treatment.

What are some common kinds of alternative sentences?

First, understand that alternative sentences are usually only awarded to those who have committed nonviolent crimes and who have offended for the first time. It's first-time offenders who are most likely to be offered alternatives, but that doesn't mean that a repeat offender won't receive the option. That's why it's a good idea to talk to your attorney about alternative sentencing and to find out which sentences you might be able to seek.

Alternative sentences can vary. For example, a nonviolent offender who was caught with cocaine might be offered the option of fines and substance abuse treatment instead of imprisonment. They may have to complete community service, too.

Similarly, someone who has received a DUI but did not harm anyone might be offered substance abuse treatment in lieu of imprisonment. The goal is to make sure that those who offend are given the tools they need to improve their lives and to avoid offending again in the future.

If this is your first offense, you might be able to seek deferred adjudication or diversion, too. This would eliminate your charges if you complete the program set up by the court. For example, if you're caught with drugs, the court may order you to go through substance abuse treatment and several hours of community service. If you meet the requirements the court sets out, then the charges against you may be dismissed.

If you have been charged, don't think that incarceration is the only outcome for people in your situation. Your attorney can help you look into alternatives.

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Terri Daniel, Attorney at Law, PLLC
6675 Mediterranean Dr, Suite 407
McKinney, TX 75072

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