When crafting a felony sentence, Judges in Alabama have several options, including suspended sentences, split sentences, or sentences to serve time in prison. The Judge's options depend on the charge. For instance, sex offenses involving a child are ineligible for a split sentence. For this week's tip, we will focus on Split sentences on class A and B felonies and a way the Judge can sentence a defendant to a split sentence without the person serving prison time.
Normally, if a person is ordered to serve a split sentence, then the person must serve straight time (day for day). For a sentence of 15 years or less a Judge can split a sentence up to 3 years. Put simply, the Judge cannot give someone more than 3 years to serve on a 15 year split. For a sentence of more than 15 years but less than 20 years, the Judge can sentence someone to serve a split up to 5 years and not less than 3 years. Again, in plain terms, for a 20 year sentence that means a defendant can get 3 to 5 years.
Fortunately, there is a provision in the Split Sentencing Act that gives Judges the discretion to suspend the minimum period of confinement (the day for day time discussed above) and place a defendant on probation. See Ex Parte McCormick, 932 So. 2d 124 (Ala. 2005). This means, even on a split sentence, there is a chance the Court will allow the defendant to go on probation on the front end, and assuming there are no violations, stay out on probation.