If you are convicted of a crime in Washington State, there is a good possibility that you will be ordered to serve jail or some other alternative to jail. If the crime is DUI, then there are mandatory Washington DUI penalties that limit jail alternatives to jail and work release only. But if it is some other crime, then the possibility of other alternatives to jail exist. Below is a quick overview of only some of the options.
If you are sentenced to jail in Washington State for a misdemeanor and some felonies, it usually means that you must serve your time in the local county jail (though some cities have their own jail for misdemeanor offenders). However, most judges will allow you to serve your sentence at another facility at your own expense if you ask. Many of these facilities are much better than the county jail and only house misdemeanor offenders. If you must spend time in jail, places like the Issaquah jail, SCORE, and the Nisqually jail are good alternatives.
Work release is an alternative to jail that allows you to got to work during the day and return to the corrections facility at night. You must be approved by your local corrections facility to participate in the work release program and you will be charged by the day for the “opportunity to work.” In King County and Snohomish County, you must be sentenced to at least ten days of jail before you become eligible to apply for work release. In most cities, there is no option for work release. But some cities, such as Seattle, Kirkland and Kent, work release remains a possibility.
Electronic Home Monitoring
Electronic home monitoring (EHM) is an alternative to jail time that allows you to serve your jail commitment in your home. You are permitted to go to work and to treatment programs, but must remain in your home at all other times. you have to pay out-of-pocket for this service and it generally costs between $12-$20 per day. EHM may be set up and monitored by the county or city jail or by a private company, depending upon what county or city your case is located.
Under certain circumstances, community service will be allowed as an alternative to jail. In some places, like Seattle Municipal Court, the community service must be completed at court-approved agencies and you must use the court-approved forms. But in most other instances, you are free to find a non-profit or governmental organization at which to volunteer. The service must benefit the community at large (for example, you can’t volunteer as an usher at your church) and it is your responsibility to get proof on the organization’s letterhead. If you are in King County, a list of community service organizations can be found at the United Way website. Of course, there are thousands of other worthy groups who could use your help.
In general, most judges are open and willing to sentence people to alternatives to jail because it both saves the city and county money, and it allows judges to tailor punishments to better fit the individual. But you and your attorney need to ask at sentencing for alternatives to jail. So make sure your attorney is knowledgeable about the alternatives to jail available in your area.