Any type of incarceration is less than ideal, but there are important differences between types of facilities. If you are facing criminal charges, you should know whether or not a conviction will result in a jail or prison sentence. It’s also a good idea to know what time in jail vs prison typically looks like. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid either or shorten your sentence. This will depend on the circumstances of your case.
The basics of jail vs prison:
Local jurisdictions, cities, and counties generally operate jails. Prisons, on the other hand, are run by the state or federal government. An inmate will serve their sentence in state prison if they violated a state law or federal prison if they committed a federal crime.
Possibly the biggest difference between jail and prison is the amount of time an inmate will typically spend in the facility. Jails hold individuals in the short term. This includes people awaiting trial or sentencing as well as those serving less than a year. It is possible to spend more than a year in jail if you were convicted of multiple misdemeanors and are serving time consecutively. Prisons hold those who are serving longer sentences. This affects the way these facilities are structured. Jails are designed for a smaller population that spends less time incarcerated. Conversely, prisons must accommodate individuals for the long term. As a result, they will typically have a larger population.
In Arizona, jails house those who have been convicted of misdemeanors. Those with felony convictions will serve time in prison.
Incarceration is not a pleasant experience no matter which type of facility you are in. The main factor is not the time you spend in the facility, but rather what happens after. In the case of prison, your sentence will be longer and you will have a felony conviction on your record. This can make it more difficult to find a job after you are released and may have a large impact on your life. Misdemeanor charges are still serious but are usually less impactful in the long term.
Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand what possible penalties you will face if convicted and whether this will include jail or prison time. In some cases, it is possible to reduce a potential felony to a misdemeanor, which includes a sentence in jail instead of prison and less severe long-term penalties. Depending on the details of your situation, your lawyer may be able to help reduce your sentence or eliminate jail/prison time altogether.
Our lawyers will fight for you and will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome. We have extensive experience in criminal defense cases including driving under the influence (DUI) and other types of charges.