Whether you plead guilty to a criminal charge or are found guilty of a criminal charge, you will have to be sentenced. Not all sentences result in time in jail or prison. In fact, many sentences are considered alternative sentences because they don't result in any time in jail.
One of the most common alternative sentences that is used in the criminal justice system is probation. When you are sentenced to probation, you have to report to an officer of the court who will make sure that you are complying with the probation terms. These include staying away from other people who have criminal records, holding a job, staying drug free and avoiding any other criminal activity. Other conditions might also be possible if you are on probation.
Suspended sentences are another type of alternative sentence that might be imposed. In this case, the sentence isn't imposed as long as you stay out of criminal trouble until the period of suspension is completed.
You might also have to perform community service work. In this case, you would have to complete a certain number of hours of work at a specific place that is approved by the court. This work is done without you being paid.
Fines and restitution are two types of financial alternative sentences that you might face. You might also be offered pretrial diversion programs and similar programs that would mean you didn't have to serve time in prison or jail.
You should ensure that you fully understand the sentence you receive in your case. This can help you to ensure that you are in compliance so you don't face future legal issues.
Source: FindLaw, "Alternative Sentences," accessed May 05, 2017