| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Allowing for Mistakes: First Time Offenders in Florida

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.  

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Diversion Programs

Orlando Veterans Diversion Court is a True Asset

The Ninth Judicial Circuit has finally started and opened its Veterans Diversion Court.  Orange County Judge Brewer is absolutely committed to making the Veterans Program a success in Orlando.  While the Ninth Circuit already has a pretrial diversion program for first time offenders, the Orlando Veteran’s Court is sure to provide true advantages to our veterans.  This program will provide counselors for the veterans to assist them in finding assistance through programs offered at the Veterans Association (VA).  The VA has more funding and accessibility to more treatment than the typical orange county diversion programs.  In my experience, counseling and assisting those with access to specialized programs can be a great starting point to recovery. In order to be accepted into the Ninth Circuit Veterans Court, you must be approved by the State Attorneys Office.  Furthermore, if the case involves a victim such as a battery case or a theft, the victim must also approve.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Diversion Programs

Orange County Establishing a Veteran’s Court

I was recently informed that Orange County is starting a Veteran’s Court and that Judge Brewer will oversee these cases.  I want to thank Judge Brewer for taking on this challenge and look forward to working with him to help Veteran’s in our community. The Veteran’s Court is a diversion program that was established to help veterans who find themselves in criminal trouble and who have special needs that the traditions diversion or ptd program is not equipped to address.  Much like Drug Court the veteran will be required to come to court on a regular basis so the Judge can keep track of the cases’s status.  Assuming the veteran successfully completes the program then all charges will be dismissed against him or her. As a criminal defense attorney I have seen a rise in combat veterans who are in need of help navigating the criminal justice system.  I think that this program has the potential to be extremely successful and helpful.  It is my understanding that employees of the Veterans Administration are involved with this program and will be able to assist veteran in obtaining the social services that they earned and truly need. The specifics of the program have not been announced yet and we will be sure to update everyone as the details emerge.  I have seen Seminole County’s Veteran’s Court and hope that Judge Brewer can be as successful.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Diversion Programs

Judge John Woodard

I recently had a client complete the Seminole County Mental Health DiversionProgram.   This program allows those with mental health issues and who elect to participate an opportunity to have their criminal case dismissed.  It is a fairly rigorous process and is overseen by Judge John Woodard.  I believe this is a wonderful program and Judge Woodard deserves a lot of credit for his involvement in the program.  Below is a letter that I wrote to him and I think it is worth sharing as I truly believe that he deserves to be recognized: The Honorable John Woodard III: I wanted to thank you for taking a roll in the Seminole County Mental Health Court program. Without judges like you, this program would never have gotten off the ground. Upon graduation from the program you have the entire courtroom applaud the efforts of the participant, but I truly feel you too should be recognized as well. I recently had a client complete the program and have seen the changes that he has made in his life. While he did a great deal of work, I believe that your program certainly had a lot to do with his success. I know he is in a better place and his parents see the change in his personality as well. All too regularly we are reminded what occurs in our society when mental health issues are ignored or not recognized. While this is not intended to be an editorial, I think that as society these issues need to be addressed and not politicized. Punishing people with mental health issues rather than offering them help is only going to compound their problems and make it harder for them to get the help that they need. I wanted to take the time to thank you for heading up the Seminole County Mental Health program.  I think you have done a service to Seminole County.  I recognize that you truly care about the participants and believe that they see that as well. Very truly yours, Andrew Moses

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