Can you avoid a Florida conviction with pretrial diversion?

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The effects of a criminal conviction can linger, as we’ve discussed in several recent posts. Fortunately, there are strategies that an experienced criminal defense attorney can pursue to help defendants get a fresh start. One such option is pretrial diversion, a program offered in Orlando and many counties throughout Florida.

In exchange for completing a prescribed service or workshop, the pretrial diversion program will drop the charges against an individual. That means that an individual who successfully completes a pretrial diversion program will have avoided both a conviction and the resulting criminal record.

However, not every crime is eligible. Each county sets the specific requirements, but in general, only non-violent crimes and first-time offenders qualify. Aggravated crimes, or those that involve a weapon, are usually excluded. Repeat offenders may also be ineligible, although there are exceptions.

Our law firm believes that the pretrial diversion exemplifies the ideals of the criminal justice system. Programs like drug or alcohol counseling, anger management classes, community service, or cooperation with random drug testing or monthly reporting to an officer are all designed to rehabilitate an alleged criminal offender.

Fortunately, state lawmakers also see the benefit of pretrial diversion: A Florida Senate committee recently approved a pretrial diversion program for juvenile offenders. The proposed legislation would empower officers to issue civil citations to young offenders and/or send them to pretrial diversion programs.

If you have been arrested, an attorney can help you plan your criminal defense. To learn more about options like pretrial diversion, check out our Orlando law firm’s website.

Source: News4Jax, “Juvenile diversion push gets start in Senate,” Brandon Larrabee, Jan. 23, 2017

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