Facing criminal charges for the first time can be an extremely traumatic and stressful experience. Many first-time offenders who violated the law did so unintentionally because they were unaware the rule existed or simply made an honest mistake. Fortunately, the state of Florida offers individuals with no previous criminal history several options to avoid jail time. They also provide numerous programs where first-time offenders can have their criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a crime for the first time, then it’s within your best interest to obtain legal representation. The judicial system may extend certain offenders without a criminal background leniency atsentencing, but you will want a thorough understanding of all your possible legal avenues before moving forward. Don’t jeopardize your case by going to court unprepared. Get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney for assistance today.
It’s common to be overwhelmed and even a little bit frightened if you’re facing criminal charges for the first time. The upcoming legal process can be complex that’s hard to keep up with. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, it’s in your best interest to secure legal representation as soon as possible.
John Terrezza of Terrezza Law is committed to fighting for favorable outcomes for first-time offenders. He has years of experience representing first-time offenders charged with a variety of crimes. Contact Terrezza Law at (850) 764-5291 today if you’d like to set up your first consultation free. Terrezza Law accepts clients throughout the greater Santa Rosa County and Escambia County area including Milton, Pensacola, Navarre, and Gulf Breeze.
Overview of First-Time Offenders in FL
Violating Florida Statutes in any capacity comes with serious consequences. However, there are a few crimes frequently committed by first-time offenders. Some criminal offenses often committed by people with no criminal history include the following:
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) and Pre-Trial Diversion Programs (PTD) were created by the state of Florida to help rehabilitate eligible offenders instead of incarcerating them. The programs were designed to focus on rehabilitation treatments rather than punishment to reduce the probability the defendant would re-offend. Many first-time offenders are offered the choice of partaking in a PTI or PTD program because they have no criminal history.
When you participate in a PTD or PTI program you are required to complete certain specified conditions by the court. The charges aren’t immediately dropped, but rather they continue without final disposition for a set period of time. You must complete the conditions listed until the end of the intervention period. These conditions can vary depending on your case, but a few common examples include random drug screenings, community service or therapy.
If you successfully complete all the conditions in the allotted time period, then your charges will be dropped. However, if the State Attorney’s Office discovers you are not fulfilling your obligations, then your charges can be reinstated. You could be required to face the statutory penalties of the crime, which means spending some time in jail or prison. If your charges are dismissed after successful completion of PTI or PTD you may be eligible to have your record expunged or sealed.
Many first-time offenders are eligible for a special type of disposition known as a withhold of adjudication. When a person obtains a “withhold” the judge orders some sanctions but doesn’t formally convict the defendant of a criminal offense. The defendant will be required to follow the conditions listed in their withhold until the end of their probation sentence.
The advantage of the court withholding adjudication of guilt is you won’t have a formal conviction on your public record. This means the defendant can legally answer no if they are asked whether they have been convicted of a crime. The ability to legally and honestly say one has no criminal convictions can make all the difference in the world when searching for a job, obtaining credit or renting an apartment. In addition, you will be able to retain your civil rights such as the right to vote or serve on a jury.
The court commonly offers a withhold of adjudication to first-time offenders or those with limited criminal history who are charged with nonviolent minor crimes. However, certain charges won’t qualify for a withhold. Defendants charged with capital, life or first-degree felonies are not eligible for a withhold of adjudication.
Prison Policy Initiative – Visit the official website for the Prison Policy Initiative, a non-profit and non-partisan organization committed to sharing awareness about the United States mass incarceration problem. Access the site to learn about their present and future publications, statistics regarding prisons in the U.S. and more.
Mitigating Circumstances for a Withhold – Visit the official website for the Florida Senate to learn more about the mitigating circumstances surrounding a withhold of adjudication. Access the site to learn what factors in your case could qualify you for a withhold or if you’re ineligible.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, then it’s important you seek legal counsel to assist you. Terrezza Law has represented numerous first-time offenders for years and can utilize his experience to build your defense. Attorney Terrezza will overlook your case and help you uncover the best possible legal option for you.
Call now at (850) 764-5291 to schedule your first appointment free. During the appointment Mr. Terrezza will sit with you, examine your charges and start working on structuring a strong defense for your case. You can find Terrezza Law in Pensacola, Florid, but Terrezza Law accepts clients throughout the greater Escambia County area including Gulf Breeze, Milton and Pensacola.