Facing a criminal charge can be scary enough, but facing jail time can be even scarier. If you have been charged with a crime in Washington County, however, you may be eligible for a jail alternative, such as a diversion program. Many Minnesota counties have programs to help divert low-level offenders from serving jail or prison time. The following programs might apply to your situation:
- Sentence to Service. This program is a jail alternative work program. Like most of the programs, the county designed it for low risk offenders. The program offers you the opportunity to do community service work in exchange for staying out of jail. This program is part of a sentence. The court sentences you after you either plead guilty or a jury convicts you. The charge does go on your record.
- Probation Supervision. Probation is another alternative to jail that the court gives as part of a sentence. Generally, a judge allows you to stay in the community under certain conditions, and stay out of jail. If you violate the conditions, however, the court can revoke your probation and make you serve the jail time, instead.
- Pretrial Diversion. Pretrial diversion programs give you the opportunity to keep a conviction off your record entirely. Minnesota counties, including Washington, that are part of the Community Corrections Act Counties, receive government grants and subsidies to create adult pretrial diversion programs. These programs identify low-level offenders who may benefit from receiving help to avoid committing crimes in the future. If you successfully complete the program, the court never tries or convicts you of the crime. Your record stays clean, which can make a big difference in matters such as employment, housing and education.
- Other programs. Washington County also uses other programs to help offenders change their behavior and avoid illegal activity in the future. The programs usually include a type of group therapy and support, as well as skills training and a focus on self-development. The court may have you participate in one of these group programs as part of one of the other options.
These programs were designed for adult offenders. Juvenile offenders in Washington County have a different set of programs designed specifically for them. The point of these types of programs is to give an offender the chance to make things right in their community without going to jail. You may still have to pay fines, fees and restitution to victims as part of the solution. You may have to volunteer in your community or go to a group therapy session. When these programs are applied as intended, however, they can benefit everyone involved and keep you in your community rather than jail.