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Dunkin Donuts Bans and Jail Tours: Alternative Sentences?

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on June 02, 2009 4:39 PM

A couple of stories about unusual sentences being handed out in New Hampshire...First, 34-year-old mom, Meredith-Leigh Pulkkinen-Walton, who kicked a police officer got a suspended sentence, and will be required to write a letter of apology plus take a tour of the county jail. Jail tour, not bad, but here's one N.H. sentence to top it. After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of shoplifting coffee from a Dunkin' Donuts, Matthew Anderson, 20, got himself a suspended sentence, a fine, and a hefty 2-year citywide Dunkin' Donuts ban.

As can be seen from those two examples alone, judges can get pretty creative when imposing sentences. Although those are pretty unusual, the following are some common types of alternatives to jail sentences:

Suspended Sentences & Probation

Courts can choose to "suspend" sentences (i.e. put a hold on them) and place people on probation instead. Along with probation come "conditions of probation" which must be adhered to. These can also get pretty creative, by the way, but common conditions require people to abide by all laws, abstain from drug/alcohol use, and regularly report to their probation officer.

A violation of probation can result in parole getting revoked and in imposition of the sentence that had been suspended.

Community Service

Although this might be the specialty of celebrities-gone-awry, community service is often imposed in lieu of jail time for a defendant to "repay a debt to society".

Fines

Probably falling into the slap-on-the-wrist category, fines are imposed instead of jail time where first-time offenders or minor offenses are involved, or where a court feels there's nothing to be gained/learned from a defendant spending time in jail. Fines also often accompany other punishments including jail time.

Restitution

Sometimes offenders can be ordered to "make whole" the victims of their crimes or state victim compensation funds. This usually goes hand in hand with some other combination of the above. For example, the two year Dunkin' Donuts ban received by Matthew Anderson, was accompanied by a restitution order for $8.29 (presumably for the bag of coffee he took off with).

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