Although jail is a common form of punishment criminals are often faced with, the courts will sometimes offer alternatives to having to spend time behind bars.

There are hundreds and thousands of different crimes an individual can be charged and convicted of all of which carry similar and differing penalties. However, one common penalty an offender is likely to be faced with after having been charged with a crime is being sentenced to jail for a certain period of time. For example, if you are over the age of 21 and arrested for DWI in McAllen, Texas, you risk having to spend anywhere from three days to 180 days in jail [Source: Texas Department of Transportation]. If you were to be found guilty of possession of a controlled substance in TX, you may be required to serve up to 180 days behind bars, although the sentence will vary depending on the type of drug along with the amount you had [Source: Southern Methodist University].

While jail time isone of the common ways the courts punish criminals, they sometimes will agree to a plea bargain which helps a defendant avoid going to jail. A plea bargain is an “agreement between defendants and prosecutors in which defendants agree to plead guilty to some or all of the charges against them in exchange for concessions from the prosecutors. These agreements allow prosecutors to focus their time and resources on other cases, and reduce the number of trials that judges need to oversee” [Source: Cornell Law School]. When a plea bargain is agreed upon, the defendant’s penalties are often reduced, meaning their jail sentence may be shortened or replaced with alternative forms of punishments.


Some alternative forms of punishments a defendant might receive rather than having to serve time in jail include:


  • Probation- Probation is a common alternative given to criminals who violated the law. While some crimes carry mandatory probation time with them on top of their jail sentence, the courts may agree to increase the probation period in exchange for a defendant not having to serve time behind bars.


  • Community service. This might entail you having to spend a set number of hours engaging in activities around the community to help support a clean and safe environment.


  • Pay fines/fees. The courts may require you to pay additional fines for the crimes you committed on top of those you would normally be asked to pay. These fines maybe paid to the courts directly or to the party’s which have been affected by your actions. For instance, if you were to have stolen property from a store, you may not only be asked to pay the courts their share of fines and fees, but also the store as well. Fines and fees vary by charge and generally increase when offered as an alternative to serving time in jail.


  • House arrest. House arrest, also referred to as home confinement, is yet another alternative offered to criminals. Usually, a person cannot leave the premises of their home and are confined to the area with an ankle monitor. House arrest is similar to being in jail as you cannot leave the area in which you are confined to, however, you are given much more freedom that you would receive had you had to serve your sentence in jail.


  • Complete programs. Depending on the type of offense you have been charged with will determine the program you may have to complete if you want to avoid having to go to jail.


If you were arrested in Texas and want to reduce your chances of being sentenced to jail, contact a TX criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Now, keep in mind that when you are given an alternative to serving time in jail, it is likely you will be faced with more than one of the alternatives mentioned above or others. For instance, aside from having to serve time on probation, the judge may also require you to pay certain fines and fees and even complete several programs in exchange for your freedom.

Now, if you were recently arrested in McAllen, TX and are looking to reduce the chances of you having to serve time in jail, you will want to connect with a criminal defense attorney in McAllen, Texasas soon as possible. You will need someone who has extensive experience in handling criminal cases and isn’t afraid to fight for a successful outcome. In fact, criminal defense attorney Juan Tijerina has 12 years of legal experience and has a deep understanding of the federal criminal justice system.

If you would like to find out how the Tijerina Law Firm, PC can help you during this unfortunate and confusing time, contact them today at 956-261-5609 or click here to request a free consultation.


You can reach the Tijerina Law Firm, PC at:


4016 N. 22ndStreet

McAllen, TX 78504