Serving jail time or paying a monetary fine isn't the only result of being found guilty in court. The judge can give you other forms of sentences such as:
If you are put on probation, then it means that you are exempted from going to jail if you follow some specific court orders. A probation officer will be tasked with ensuring that you adhere to all these orders. These court orders may include:
- Regular meetings with the officer
- Avoiding some places (for example, you may be asked to avoid your accuser's business place)
- Regular court meetings
- Not traveling out of state
The probation may be for a limited time or life; it depends on the seriousness of your crime. The sentencing judge also includes the possible punishments (such as lengthening of the probation period) for violating your probation.
In a suspended sentence, you are sentenced and given a jail time, but not sent to jail. Of course, there are also conditions that you must adhere to. The suspended sentence can either be conditional or unconditional.
If it is conditional, then it means that you will serve the original jail time if you violate the court's conditions. With unconditional sentences, there is no threat of jail time hanging over your neck; the only thing you have to worry about is your criminal conviction, which becomes a matter of public record.
A deferred sentence is a bit like a suspended sentence, but the difference here is that you are not convicted. This means that no jail time, fine or even probation time is issued. Just like in the above situations, there are conditions that you have to meet for your sentencing to stay deferred. For example, you may be required to attend counseling or undertake a drug rehabilitation program.
At the end of the deferred sentence period, your case is reopened. If you didn't keep the conditions, then you are hauled back to court and then sentenced. If you kept them, then your case is dismissed. The beauty of a deferred sentence is that, if you manage to stay out of trouble, then you will not have a criminal conviction in your public record. In essence, it will be as if you never committed any crime.
It is clear that jail time is not the only sentence that you face when you are found guilty of a crime. A good criminal attorney, like Robert A Murray, could help you to serve one of these sentences instead of getting sent to jail, especially if you were charged with a petty crime. This underscores the value of consulting a lawyer, even if he or she doesn't succeed in getting your case dismissed.