What Is an Alternative Sentence?

Alternative sentencing is a name for all the different forms of punishment, excluding jail time and the death penalty, that a judge can give a defendant.


For example, community sentencing and non-custodial sentencing are forms of alternative sentencing. 

The purpose of alternative sentencing is to give the defendant a punishment that fits the crime and to encourage reform.

Alternatives to prison have the best chance of having a positive impact on both the defendant and society.

Qualifying for alternative sentencing options depends on the type of crime committed and whether the accused has any prior convictions.

If you face criminal charges, we recommend discussing your case with a criminal defense attorney.

Criminal defense lawyers can potentially reduce or eliminate criminal charges. Alternative sentencing is often a beneficial route to pursue.

Contact our attorneys today to discuss the specifics of your case and potential defenses.

Types of Alternative Sentencing Options

In Wyoming, there are many alternatives to prison. However, some alternative sentencing options apply to more crimes than others.

Monetary Fines

Monetary fines are the most common type of alternative sentence. They typically apply in cases involving speeding or parking tickets.

Judges often use monetary fines as an additional form of punishment rather than just a prison sentence.

But if it is possible, the attorneys at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense can negotiate monetary fines as an alternative sentenced to jail time.

Suspended Sentence

A suspended sentence is an alternative form of punishment where the judge orders a sentence but does not enforce it.

It usually applies in cases involving non-serious or first-time offenses. Suspended sentences usually include conditions that the defendant must meet to avoid jail time.


The accused is put on probation when he or she is released from detention but under supervision for a period of time.

Similar to a suspended sentence, probation requires the accused to meet certain conditions, like completing a substance abuse treatment program.

The probation can be revoked and the accused sentenced to jail time if those conditions are not met. The defense attorney and prosecutor usually negotiate the terms of probation.


Like a fine, restitution is an alternative sentence that requires the accused to pay money. Restitution is different from a monetary fine because the money that the accused pays goes to the victim.

The purpose of restitution is to compensate the victim for financial loss that resulted from the crime.

Victims often use restitution to pay for medical expenses or property damages. However, judges often order restitution as an additional form of punishment instead of an alternate form.

Community Service

Community service is any activity that benefits the community to make up for the wrong done.

There are many local and regional community service programs in Wyoming. Examples include:

  • Cleaning a park or roadside,
  • Volunteering at a welfare agency like United Way of Natrona County, and
  • Volunteering at a homeless shelter such as Wyoming Rescue Mission.

Sometimes community service is a specific form of punishment that relates to the crime charged. For example, an accused found guilty of a DUI offense may be sentenced to lecture young adults about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Diversion Programs

In Wyoming, diversion programs are alternatives to prison that may result in the dismissal of charges. The defendant must meet certain criteria that relate to the crime charged.

The purpose of diversion programs is to allow defendants to show that they have learned from their mistakes and will not repeat them. However, the charges will be brought again if the defendant fails to meet the criteria.

For example, while in the Wyoming Intensive Supervision program, a defendant:

  • Participates in cognitive skills classes;
  • Is subject to random drug tests;
  • Receives unannounced home visits;
  • Must work 40 hours per week; and 
  • Is required to pay all bills and other court-ordered obligations.

Qualifying defendants include those eligible for parole, those likely to be sentenced to a correctional facility, and those experiencing difficulty under traditional probation and parole.

Eligibility for Alternative Sentencing

To be eligible for an alternative sentence in Wyoming, you must prove to a judge that you meet the qualifications for at least one of the alternative sentencing options.

Wyoming judges have a lot of discretion when considering alternatives to prison.

To take back your future and find out if you would qualify for an alternative sentence, contact us today at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense.

We will aggressively fight to reduce or eliminate prison time as your potential sentence.