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Pre-Trial Diversion in Florida

Posted by on Nov 2, 2014 in Criminal Law | 0 comments

When an individual who has no criminal record is charged with a crime in Florida, it is possible to keep an arrest to be kept off the record with a program called pre-trial diversion which in Florida is called the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. The purpose of a pre-trial diversion is to give the accused a chance to avoid getting branded as a criminal for life for making a mistake.

In general, crimes up to only third degree felonies are considered for felony PTI and not all third degree felonies are included. In most cases, these are misdemeanors such as petty theft, but even the most minor charge is not eligible for PTI if there is a prior offense. The charge has to be relatively minor and the defendant is not likely to commit a similar or other crime in the future. Excluded offenses (not eligible for PTI application) include but are not limited to:

  • More serious felonies (2nd degree or higher)
  • Attempted residential burglary
  • Felony driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Offense involving more than $5,000 at the time of application
  • Offenses against governmental agencies
  • Organized scheme to defraud
  • Possession of methamphetamine, LSD, heroin, or more than ½ gram of cocaine
  • Robbery
  • Selling, forging or counterfeiting private labels
  • Weapons charges
  • Welfare fraud

Inclusion into the PTI program requires the defendant to allocute to the crime, which is technically an admission of guilt. If the defendant violates the terms of the program, he or she will no longer be entitled to a trial but will go straight to a sentencing hearing. However, if the defendant successfully completes the program to the satisfaction of the Office of the State Attorney, the slate is wiped clean as if it had never happened.

The Florida PTI program is overseen by the Florida Department of Corrections, but an individual will only qualify for it upon referral from the State Attorney’s Office with the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney. As mentioned on the website of the Flaherty Defense Firm, taking on the criminal process can be intimidating as well as confusing, and it would be best to discuss your options with a lawyer before making a move.

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