What are Florida’s Pre-Trial Intervention Programs?
Facing criminal charges is always scary, particularly if you have never been charged with an offense before. You are likely wondering what is involved in the process of being charged with a crime, and have concerns about your future. Although it may not seem as though you have options, that is not true. First offenders charged with a non-violent crime, such as shoplifting, may qualify for a pre-trial intervention program. This program can help you avoid jail time and a criminal record. However, you must first make sure that you qualify for the program and ensure that you meet certain obligations.
The Benefits of Pre-Trial Intervention
A pre-trial intervention program does allow you to avoid jail time and the mark on your criminal record that a conviction will leave. However, there are other benefits, as well. These include:
- Resolve your case more quickly
- Avoid the cost of a trial
- Gain access to services such as therapy and treatment for substance abuse
- The possibility of having the arrest record expunged
To reap these benefits, you must first ensure that you qualify for a pre-trial intervention program.
Qualifying for a Pre-Trial Intervention Program
Not everyone charged with a crime is eligible to enter a pre-trial intervention program. To qualify you must have been charged with your first offense, or not have more than one conviction on your record of a non-violent misdemeanor. This means that while you can qualify even if you have been arrested in the past, if you have a felony conviction on your criminal record, or more than one misdemeanor, you are not eligible for the program.
Most felonies also make you ineligible for a pre-trial intervention program. However, those charged with a first or second misdemeanor, or a first third-degree felony are eligible.
Even after meeting these criteria, you may still not qualify for the program. A program administrator must approve your application, and any victims must also agree to the program admission. Victim consent is not always applicable, such as when the case involves a simple possession charge. In these instances, different criteria will be used to determine if you qualify for the program.
Your Obligations in the Program
When entering a program, you will have certain obligations that you must meet. A judge may order you to enter counseling or a treatment program for a problem such as substance abuse. If you do not successfully meet all of the obligations in the program, you will face the charges again and could be convicted of a crime. If you do meet the obligations outlined by a judge, you can avoid trial and the conviction, and may also have the arrest expunged from your record.
Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers can Determine if You Qualify
If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to know that you have options. At O’Mara Law Group, our Orlando criminal defense lawyers can help with your case. We will determine if you qualify for a pre-trial intervention program and give you the best chance of gaining approval from the administrator. If you do not qualify, we will build a strong defense for your case and give you the best chance of beating the charges. When you need legal help, call us at (407) 634-6604 or contact us online to meet with one of our attorneys.