According to criminal sentencing laws, many different types of crimes require jail time. These may be categorized into two different categories: misdemeanors, which carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail; and felonies, which can lead to much longer sentences in a prison facility (anywhere from 1 year to a lifetime sentence).
Some common examples of misdemeanors include assault/battery charges, various alcohol-related offenses, and simple theft crimes. Felonies may include violent offenses such as homicide or murder, kidnapping, robbery, grand theft, and "aggravated" charges like aggravated assault. Less serious crimes like vandalism or trespassing may result in a simple citation or a small monetary fee.
Many people use the terms "jail" and "prison" interchangeably. However, they refer to two very different facilities. A jail is usually operated by a city or county government, and is used to hold people who have been charged with crimes and are waiting for trial or are waiting to be bailed out. They are also used for persons who have been charged with a crime involving a sentence of less than one year (i.e., misdemeanors)
On the other hand, "prisons" are operated by the state or federal government, and are used to house persons who have been sentenced to periods of greater than one year. Thus, prisons often include various facilities to accommodate longer stays there, such as libraries, exercise facilities, medical treatment, and some employment-related options.
Jails tend to have high amounts of security due to the fact that many different people can be there while they are awaiting trial. Prisons also have strict security measures, and can often involve special arrangements such as solitary confinement or maximum security measures.
Alternative sentencing is used to refer to sentencing options that seek to limit or avoid jail time. For instance, a person may be allowed to perform community service or attend rehabilitation programs instead of serving jail time. These types of options are often reserved for first-time offenders and for less serious misdemeanor offenses.
Criminal law statutes can be very different in every state. You may need to hire a lawyer if you have any questions or concerns regarding the laws in your area. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice, guidance, and representation for your particular case. A qualified criminal lawyer can help explain how criminal sentencing work and whether any alternative options are available for your case.
Last Modified: 06-26-2018 12:46 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.