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Allowing for Mistakes: First Time Offenders in Florida

Written by Moses & Rooth on July 7, 2015

We have all been there: pressured to do something we did not want to, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, or making a decision to do something out of character. Fortunately, the state of Florida provides an opportunity for individuals, particularly young offenders or first time offenders, to face the consequences of their actions without facing the long-term consequences of a criminal record. Orange County, specifically, offers pretrial diversion programs, allowing individuals an opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution and move forward with their lives.

Pre-Trial Diversion Programs

Pre-trial diversion programs are privileges intended to assist those who do not have a criminal record and have committed comparatively “minor” offenses. These programs are not designed to be in lieu of punishment, are not a right, and have many parameters and guidelines that must be followed in order to be effective for the offender. A diversion program is offered in lieu of a criminal conviction and must be approved by the Florida State’s Attorney.

Most individuals facing first time misdemeanor charges may be eligible for a diversion program. These programs essentially consist of the following:

  • A probationary term of months
  • Possible drug testing depending on the nature of the crimes
  • Phone reporting
  • Attending all court dates, without exception
  • Community service hours
  • Program and participation costs
  • Other fees

Successful completion of a diversion program may lead to a complete dismissal of charges. The conditions in a diversion program are strict and must be followed; in addition to those listed above, there may be additional requirements for cases involving drinking and driving, drug possession or use, domestic violence, or sexual crimes. There are also special programs for those with mental health issues, medical and behavioral concerns, veterans, and those facing addiction.

The objective of these programs is to determine the cause of the criminal behavior, rehabilitate, and provide offenders with counseling and medical resources to change their future behavior and bring awareness to their current situation. Offenders are given an opportunity to realize the extent of their wrongdoing and comprehend the negative impact future criminal conduct may have on their life. This is particularly necessary among young people, where the concern is re-offending. With repeat offenders making up so much of America’s prison population, diversion programs such as those offered in Florida allow first time offenders a clean slate, with the hope they will keep it that way for the duration of their life.

Orlando, Florida First Time Offender Criminal Defense Attorneys

At Moses & Rooth, our experienced first time offender criminal defense attorneys have the negotiation skills necessary to navigate your case, work with local prosecutors, and strive to ensure you receive the most favorable outcome possible given your unique set of circumstances. Avoiding a criminal charge on your record can be one of the best things you can do for your future; successfully completing a diversion program, complying with probationary terms, and not participating in criminal activity in the future will provide you with your best chance for success personally and for your family. We understand that every case is different and that everybody makes mistakes; you can contact our Orlando offices without fear of judgment today to learn more about your legal options.


Posted Under: Criminal Defense, Diversion Programs

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