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Thomas R. Cox, III Dec. 28, 2021

For defendants convicted of a crime in Texas, imprisonment is a common form of punishment. Unfortunately, incarceration usually results in the worst possible outcome for the offender compared to rehabilitation or other forms of supervision. To encourage reform, many counties across Texas are now implementing alternatives to going to jail. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can evaluate your unique situation and enlighten you about your alternative sentencing options.

For more than 30 years, the Law Office of Thomas R Cox has been providing comprehensive legal counsel and reliable advocacy to clients in alternative sentencing matters. Tom Cox is available to discuss your unique situation and help you understand your possible alternatives to going to jail. Let an experienced attorney educate you on the statutes and procedures that apply to your case, determine your eligibility, and help you navigate crucial decisions. The firm is proud to serve clients across Dallas, Irving, Grand Prairie, University Park, Dallas County, and the rest of Texas.


Alternative sentencing is a legal term used to describe various kinds of punishments which can be imposed on a convicted defendant, apart from imprisonment in county jail, state prison, or the death penalty. The goal of these sentencing alternatives is to encourage rehabilitation while still providing an appropriate punishment to the offender.


Here are some benefits of alternative sentencing:

  • To serve as a substitute to imprisonment in county jail or state prison

  • To provide the defendant with adequate support, safe addiction treatment, and counseling during their rehabilitation

  • To help the defendant avoid institutionalization

  • To reduce the adverse implications of jail or prison on the defendant's physical and mental health

  • To reduce the community cost, thus saving the taxpayers' money

  • To ensure the targeted use of county jails and prison space

  • To encourage reform and help the offender learn some important life lessons and skills

  • To prevent potential relapse and improve the chances of successful recovery

A knowledgeable attorney can assess every detail of your case and explore your alternative sentencing options.


Eligibility for alternative sentencing in the State of Texas depends on the type, severity, and seriousness of the crime committed, and whether the defendant has any prior arrests or convictions. Below are some of the alternative sentencing options that are available in Texas:


The Texas criminal justice system offers a diversion program as an opportunity for certain defendants to avoid prosecution by diverting their cases out of the court system. Diversion programs are often available to offenders accused of misdemeanor offenses and nonviolent felonies involving drugs or alcohol. The following diversion programs are available in Texas:

  • Pretrial diversion or intervention programs for first-time offenders charged with nonviolent crimes

  • First-time offender drug programs

  • Deferred prosecution program (DPP) for young offenders

  • A mental health diversion program (MHD) for mentally impaired offenders

  • Drug court diversion programs for habitual offenders

  • Veteran programs to assist offenders who served in the military


When under house arrest, you will serve your jail time or prison sentence while staying at home. For the duration of your house arrest, you will wear an electronic monitoring device on your ankle (anklet). The monitoring device will be programmed to alert authorities anytime you step outside the allowable range. There are two kinds of monitoring devices for house arrests in Texas, including:

  • GPS Monitoring — The GPS monitoring device allows the authorities to track and monitor the defendant's whereabouts.

  • Radio Frequency Electronic Monitoring — This monitoring device immediately transmits a signal to the authorities once you step outside the permissible range.


Court-ordered community service is a kind of punishment imposed on an offender by the judge as a way of benefiting the community that was harmed by the offense committed. Here, you may be ordered to perform a specified number of community service hours. Below are some examples of community service:

  • Unpaid work performed within the community

  • Working at a nonprofit or public agency

  • Organizing or creating treatment meetings

  • Counseling or sponsoring other substance abusers

  • Speaking at a school or event about the ramifications of the defendant's actions


Probation or "community supervision" can be described as a non-prison sentencing option available to offenders who have been convicted of committing a crime. According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 42.12. Section 3(a),

"A judge, in the best interest of justice, the public, and the defendant, after conviction or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, may suspend the imposition of the sentence and place the defendant on community supervision or impose a fine applicable to the offense and place the defendant on community supervision."

Probation eliminates or reduces the time that the defendant must spend behind bars. In Texas, probation may be straight probation or deferred adjudication. Regardless of the situation, it is important that you do not violate any probation terms or conditions.

There are still various other alternative sentencing options for offenders facing criminal charges in Texas or sentenced to jail/prison. Depending on the severity of the crime committed and other surrounding circumstances, your attorney can help you find the appropriate alternative that suits your specific situation.


Being convicted of a crime in Texas and going to jail often have devastating consequences. Thankfully, there are alternatives to imprisonment that encourage reform and rehabilitation while still suitably punishing the defendant. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand each alternative sentencing option and strive to determine the best course of action.

Attorney Tom Cox has the resources to represent and defend clients in their criminal cases and sentencing-related matters. As your legal counsel, he can:

  • Evaluate and investigate every detail surrounding your unique situation

  • Enlighten you on your possible sentencing options and their potential ramifications. 

  • Determine your eligibility for alternative sentencing

  • Help negotiate a plea bargain, including possible alternatives to imprisonment

Contact the Law Office of Thomas R Cox today to schedule a simple case assessment with a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Tom Cox will discuss your sentencing alternatives, fight vigorously to protect your rights, and represent your best interests at every stage of the process. The firm is proud to serve clients across Dallas, Texas, as well as Irving, Grand Prairie, University Park, and all of Dallas County.