There is a common misconception that if you commit a crime, there are only two options: You are acquitted or you face jail time. However, an experienced criminal lawyer will inform you of pre-trial diversion programs. Everybody makes mistakes and fortunately, the state of Florida recognizes that many deserve second chances. Some offenders with little to no criminal history, including certain felony offenders, may be eligible to enter a pre-trial intervention program. Once the program is completed, the court will drop your charges. The state attorney’s office is also able to grant access on a case-by-case basis so even if you are not a first-time offender, you may still be able to participate in the program.
In most situations, pre-trial diversion programs focus on non-violent offenses and usually a person is ineligible if they are charged with any offense involving violence.
In order to qualify, you must meet the following:
You are a first time offender or, you have not previously been convicted of more than one non-violent misdemeanor offense;
You are charged with a misdemeanor or a third degree felony; and
You have received approval from the program administrator and the consent of any victims of your crime.
Criminal background checks will show that you were charged with the offense but that it was dismissed. If asked about the charge, you will be able to answer “no” to any question about whether it resulted in a conviction. In most instances, you will be eligible to expunge (seal) the records of the criminal charge after you complete the pre-trial diversion program typically lasts three to six months depending on the offense.
However, if you fail to complete the terms of the program, the court will enter a judgment of conviction and the charges will appear on your criminal record.
Contact Michael B. Cohen for more information on how to seal or expunge a criminal record through a pre-trial diversion program. Pre-Trial Diversion programs may be a great option for you but never assume on your own that you are eligible or that a diversion program is your best option. Always talk to a qualified criminal defense lawyer first!