What are the Alternatives to Jail Time for Drug Charges in GA?
Incarceration is expensive. Per capita, basic food, medical care, and other costs total almost $70,000 a year in many cases. Because of this enormous expense, and because of the staggering emotional costs that incarcerated defendants must pay, Gwinnett County and other counties are almost always interested in alternatives to jail time for drug charges in Georgia. That is especially true in drug possession cases. Many people, including many lawmakers, now view drug possession as a health and safety issue, as opposed to a criminal law issue.
However, it is much easier for officials to simply send convicted defendants to jail or prison. Additionally, many of the costs are fixed. Jails and prisons contract with vendors to provide for a certain number of inmates. The cost is the same, whether the facility is 1% full or 100% full.
So, while alternatives to jail time are available, prosecutors usually do not offer these alternatives, at least right off the bat. Instead, a tenacious Norcross criminal defense attorney must ask for them, and in many cases, keep asking for them. Prosecutors and Judges only approve these alternatives if they are in the best interests of everyone involved. That includes the state, the defendant, and society in general.
Beating the Charges in Court
The best alternative to jail time is nothing at all. Most criminal offenses have basically two kinds of defenses:
Procedural: Many cases, especially drug cases, have multiple moving parts. Drug cases almost always involve seized evidence. Unless officers had a valid warrant, or a narrow search warrant exception applied, the seized evidence is inadmissible, and the case falls apart like a house of cards.
Substantive: Lack of evidence defenses are even more common. In Georgia, prosecutors must establish guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. A Norcross criminal defense attorney doesn’t have to “prove” anything. The defendant must only undermine the direct and/or circumstantial evidence in the case.
The criminal law process is quite long in most cases. It is important not to get frustrated and take the first offer prosecutors to make just to “get it over with.” This first offer is usually jail time.
Remote monitoring technology is more effective and cheaper than ever. Therefore, more jurisdictions are willing to offer it, and more defendants are able to pay for it.
Typically, “house arrest” doesn’t mean home confinement. Frequently, defendants are able to go to work or school. At least, these things are negotiable. House arrest usually includes a curfew and defendants are very rarely allowed to go anywhere else, even to the grocery store or doctor’s office, without special permission.
Confinement as a condition of probation, stricter conditions, or a longer period of probation is the most common probation enhancement in Georgia.
Incarceration as a condition of reinstatement is a common remedy in many probation violation matters. Prosecutors may also require upfront confinement, especially if they want to avoid the “slap on the wrist” outcry that often accompanies probation-only sentences in high-profile cases.
Reporting to a supervision officer, paying a fine, and avoiding certain activities are the most frequent conditions of probation. Anyone is subject to enhancement. For example, a monthly reporting requirement might become a weekly requirement. That’s very restrictive and burdensome, but it’s better than a jail cell, at least in most cases.
Probation extension is a little less common. However, it might be an appropriate enhancement in some cases.
Connect With a Diligent Gwinnett County Drug Charge Defense Lawyer
Jail is not the only alternative following a drug conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced Norcross criminal defense lawyer, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law.