photo - courtroom sceneGuiding Principles for Staggered Sentencing

Use A Team Approach
Use a team-oriented approach, as seen in DWI/drug courts, to develop the staggered sentencing program in your court. Invite prosecutors, defense counsel, probation officers, and other interested parties to participate in the program’s development and ask them to help you identify, at the earliest opportunity, those repeat offenders who could benefit from the program.
With their assistance, develop guidelines to identify these individuals.


  • Break the sentence and electronic monitoring into separate time segments. Use the same dates each year to avoid confusion for defendants, probation officers, and court administrators.

  • Advise the defendant that you are the only judge who will hear any motions the defendant files.

  • Assign the case to yourself (rationale: all motions and probation violations will come to you).


  • During the sentencing hearing, give the offender a “Staggered Sentence Packet,” which contains a form for a motion and instructions requesting a waiver of an incarceration or electronic monitoring segment. Instruct the offender that any motion papers must be served on the prosecutor and filed with the court a specified number of days before the commencement of the next incarceration or electronic monitoring segment.

  • Remind the offender:

    • If the offender is actively sober and has the backing of the probation officer, then the judge will waive the next incarceration or electronic monitoring segment.

    • If the offender commits an additional DWI offense during the probation period, then the offender will serve the entire period of incarceration.

  • Encourage the offender in his or her sobriety.