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Criminal procedure

sentencing—alternative sentences

Alternative sentences include the sentences or punishments a judge may give, other than a traditional jail or prison term, or the death penalty. Alternative sentences are often given in combinations of fines, restitution, probation, deferred adjudication, suspended sentences, community service, diversion programs, drug and alcohol treatment programs, house arrest, breathalyzer or ignition interlock device (IID) installation, and teaching or attending classes regarding crime and criminal behavior.

In Texas, alternative sentencing options are available to judges as a means to provide punishment other than traditional incarceration or the death penalty. These alternatives are designed to address specific circumstances of the offender or the offense and can include fines, restitution to victims, probation, and deferred adjudication, where the judge withholds a finding of guilt while the offender completes certain conditions. Suspended sentences allow the imposition of a sentence to be delayed as long as the offender meets certain criteria. Community service is another common alternative, requiring the offender to perform a set number of hours of service to the community. Diversion programs, particularly for first-time offenders, can include educational courses on the consequences of crime and substance abuse treatment programs. House arrest confines an offender to their home, sometimes monitored by electronic devices. Breathalyzer or ignition interlock devices (IIDs) may be required for those convicted of driving under the influence. These alternative sentences can be tailored to the individual and may be used in combination to promote rehabilitation and reduce recidivism.

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