The fact is, everyone makes mistakes. For some individuals, the mistakes bring them into a confrontation with the law. The good news is that Florida law has recognized that, in some situations, someone facing criminal charges deserves to have a second chance.
In some counties in Florida, there are two programs offered that defer some offenders away from the law and criminal justice system if they have never been in trouble with the law before. If you are a first time offender, you may be able to gain benefits from these programs.
One of the best ways to take advantage of these programs or know even if they are available to you is by hiring a criminal defense lawyer. They can review the facts of your case and help you figure out whether or not these programs are available to you.
What is Pre-Trial Diversion for Criminal Charges?
A pre-trial diversion program is designed for individuals who have been accused of a misdemeanor offense. The other option is a pre-trial intervention, which is available for individuals who have been accused of a third-degree, non-violent felony. If someone is charged with a crime that is more serious, then this person is typically not eligible for these programs.
All the parties that are involved will have to agree to allow the offender to enter into the deferral program. This will include the state prosecutor, who will in most cases “refer” the case into the diversion program after they have run a background check on the person who was accused, the judge of the case and if there are any, the victim. In some situations, even the law enforcement office that was involved with the person’s arrest will have to agree to the diversion program. Due to all these people who must agree, it is best for the person charged with a crime to hire an attorney. They can work to negotiate with the State Attorney’s office to help get their client into the diversion programs.
Do You Need to Have an Attorney to Help Get into the Diversion Program?
In some situations, there are cases where the background of the offender and the facts of the case make it obvious that the individual is a perfect candidate for the diversion program that is available. In these cases, you may not need to hire a lawyer if you are referred to the program.
While this is the case, these situations are few and far between. Also, having an attorney by your side in court can help to alleviate some of the anxiety that criminal charges can cause. If you are charged with a crime, having an attorney is the absolute best way to ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your situation.
How Long do Diversion Programs Last?
In most cases, the misdemeanor diversion programs will last for a period of three to six months. The actual length of time will depend on the offense, while pretrial intervention for felonies will last for approximately one year. After you are enrolled in this type of program, you will be assigned an officer that you have to report to. In some cases, reporting must occur on a monthly basis. In addition to reporting to an appointed person, you will have to adhere to certain conditions and pay the applicable fees.
For example, if you are charged with shoplifting, you usually will have to complete some amount of community service and attend an online shoplifting anonymous course. You must also not go to any store that you have been accused of stealing from. Other requirements of the pretrial programs include refraining from drinking and you may be subjected to random drug testing that you have to pay for.
Other Stipulations to Pre-Trial Programs
In situations that are more serious, you may also be required to make a plea of “no contest,” to the charge. If this happens, and you don’t complete the pre-trial program successfully, there will not be an issue regarding the innocence or guilt related to if you actually committed the crime. The only issue will be related to the sentence you are given. In some cases, the prosecutor in your case will require you to enter a plea because the defendant fails the program and they have issues finding witnesses that would make it possible to prove the case.
Are there Any Charges not Eligible for Pre-Trial Diversion Programs?
There are some criminal charges that are not considered to be eligible for deferral. This includes the majority of violent, felony offenses. Additional, DUIs are typically not allowed to be deferred and some drug crimes are not permitted to be considered for this program, either.
If someone is charged with domestic violence, there is another pre-trial diversion program available. This program is specifically designed for individuals charged with domestic violence. These programs have more requirements, including a period of 26 weeks in counseling. If you want to be considered for this program, it is a good idea to work with an attorney to help you understand whether or not it is possible.
Hiring an Attorney for Criminal Charges
If you are facing any type of criminal charges in the state of Florida, you do have options and rights. The best way to know what these options are and to protect your rights is by hiring a qualified criminal law attorney. They can review the facts of your case and ensure you get the best possible outcome. If you have questions or want to learn more about pre-trial diversion options, contact our attorneys at The Law Office of Jeffrey Thompson by calling 321-253-3771.