The Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) programs in Florida have the goal of diverting cases away from judges and the trial court process, giving individuals an opportunity to avoid the stigma and other ramifications of a criminal conviction. It is provided through two statutes, F.S. §948.08 and §948.16. A criminal defense attorney can guide you through the complexities of the statutes and help you to decide if a PTI program is the best way to resolve your case.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
There are several pre-trial intervention programs. If you have no prior (or minor) criminal record and were charged with a felony, you may qualify. The program can be entered either on a per-file basis before your arraignment or after the filing of the charging document where you have been formally arraigned.
If you have an experienced criminal defense attorney, a felony charge may be able to be reduced to a misdemeanor if the prosecutor is willing and motivated to resolve the case before the trial.
What Are the Qualifications for Pre-Trial Intervention?
It is important to know the parameters of the pre-trial intervention programs to understand if you may be eligible. Here are the standard qualifications:
- No prior adult felony arrests and/or convictions
- No more than one prior conviction for a non-violent misdemeanor crime
- Individuals who are 25 years-old or less that have a juvenile record of criminal offenses may be disqualified for entry
It is possible that the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa could find a workaround. They decide the rules that apply to the PTI program. That is why it is important to discuss your case with legal professionals experienced in the PTI program.
What Offenses Would Keep Me Out of the Program?
It is important to know that some third-degree felonies do qualify for the pre-trial intervention program. Examples of some of the ones that do not qualify include:
- Violent crimes or weapons charges
- Second-degree felony or higher
- Possession of LSD, heroin, one-half gram or more of cocaine, or methamphetamine
- Felony DWLS or DUI
- Welfare or unemployment compensation fraud
- Robbery and aggravated assault
What if I’m Innocent?
Entering into the pre-trial intervention program is essentially an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. So, if you are innocent of the charge, it is more than likely not your best legal option.
Certain professionals need to be cautious about entering a diversion program. It can be career ending and/or cause issues with necessary industry licenses. This can be those in the areas of education, the military, law enforcement, and health care.
Do I Need an Attorney to Enter a Pre-Trial Intervention Program?
It is recommended to get a criminal defense attorney to handle a PTI program.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may not be the best decision. Some consequences go along with entering the program that can end up lasting for a lifetime, so it is important to have all the information before making this critical life decision.
Call us today at 727-785-2700. Dean Tsourakis holds the AV preeminent rating — the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards.on Oct 16, 2017