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As the Canadian Justice System has progressed over time, it has produced more and more alternatives to prison sentences. However, with all the options available, it can be grueling to understand which alternative can apply to you. The crime committed may sway over the official sentence, and your defence attorney may try to get an alternative sentencing agreement that doesn’t require jail time. There are many things to consider when sentencing an individual, such as the severity of the crime, the rehabilitation or health needs of the defendant, and the safety of the community. 

To better understand the alternatives to jail time, we’ve listed other available options below:

Fines & Restitution 

Some offenders are slapped with fines or restitution for misdemeanor crimes instead of having to face jail time. These crimes may be less severe and might include disorderly conduct, trespassing, or loitering. 


The money from fines typically goes to the government, such as the court, local government, public projects, etc. However, the inability to pay the fine can result in possible jail time. In some cases, the fine can reflect both the seriousness of the crime and the offender’s income. 


Restitution involves compensating the victim directly for any financial losses they may have received because of the crime committed. Financial losses may include the cost of replacing damaged property, lost wages, or medical costs. 


Receiving a probationary order means the offender must abide by the probation conditions. The probation order allows the offender to remain in their community under the supervision of a probation officer. This alternative gives an individual the opportunity to get their life back on track and stay out of trouble. However, the inability to meet the probation requirements or report to a probation officer can result in possible prison time. 

Community Service 

A community service sentence may be a minor punishment or part of a probation requirement. During service, offenders will have specific community service hours they need to fulfill. The service is unpaid and must be fulfilled on the offender’s own time. Many types of community service include working with recycling programs, community cleanup, volunteer work, and more. 

House Arrest

A house arrest sentence is exactly as it sounds. An offender serves jail time from their own home while under electronic monitoring. The most common type of house arrest includes a monitoring device strapped around the offender’s ankle. If the individual wearing the ankle bracelet were to leave the premises, the authorities would be immediately alerted. In some cases, the defendant may be able to leave their house if they stay within the confines of their yard. If the defendant is employed, they might be permitted to attend work within the hours of their shift. The defendant may have to serve out the rest of their sentence in prison if the house arrest terms are violated.

Inpatient Rehabilitation 

Defendants with psychiatric problems and drug or alcohol addictions may be sent to rehabilitation or treatment programs instead of receiving a prison sentence. The treatment programs must be approved by the court and can last anywhere between 6 months to 2 years. Most defendants that go through rehabilitation programs are required to receive treatment on-site and participate in counselling. The defendant must complete the duration of their treatment program without violating the rules and conditions. 

It’s paramount to receive reliable representation from your local criminal attorneys in Winnipeg. Our team of knowledgeable attorneys is well-versed in the Criminal Code and has the skills to review your case and negotiate your sentence for a favourable outcome. Contact us today if you require professional legal help.