If you’ve been charged with a felony, you may have an opportunity to receive a community control sentence in lieu of incarceration as part of a plea deal.
While this is an alternative to prison, it’s important to understand exactly how community control works — and how it differs from probation — before you accept the terms. Otherwise, you may quickly find the sentence intolerable.
How does community control work?
Community control is very similar to house arrest. If you’re on probation, you’re still subject to things like drug testing and court control of where you live, but you’re generally free to go out, shop, eat dinner, visit with family and more.
None of that can happen when you are on community control. In fact:
- You may not visit friends or relatives, even for holidays or special occasions
- You may not go fishing, boating or on vacation
- You may not attend movies or go out to dinner
- You may not attend sporting events
- You may not attend church events, including choir practice, outside of regular worship services or religious instruction
Even the things you are regularly permitted to do are strictly controlled. For example:
- You have to have advance permission to go to the doctor’s office (absent an emergency) or have medical testing
- You may not go grocery shopping — even if you run out of something — except at your scheduled time
- If you go to a salon for a haircut, you have to identify the place you intend to use and provide a receipt showing when you were there
- You have to provide a church bulletin to show when services were being held
- While you may live in a condo, trailer park or apartment with amenities like a laundry room, mail room, pool or gym, you will not be permitted to use those areas.
These restrictions are on top of the sort of things that you’d expect while on probation, like random drug testing and surprise home visits.
Because community control is so strictly enforced, it can be easy to violate the terms — which may result in an actual prison term after all. It’s important to consider how well you can handle the restrictions that come with any plea deal before you decide how to proceed with your criminal defense.