Second chances are a precious commodity in the world. Second chances in the criminal justice system are even more precious. Oftentimes, the opportunity to be given a break in the criminal justice system comes in the form of diversion programs. They give people the opportunity to say, “oops”, and try again. Diversion programs can be referred to by different names, but in general will give a person a chance not to be prosecuted as a result the offender’s participation in a program, typically aimed at addressing some sort of issue. For instance, a person that is caught shoplifting may be required to attend a theft class as part of diversion. Community service and fines are also common, since there is normally a fee attached to participating in the program. Some other terms used are Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) or Deferred Prosecution (DP).
Florida Statute 948.08 gives state prosecutors discretion to use PTI programs. In the case of State of Florida vs. Michael Board, the defendant complained after the State revoked the PTI program due to alleged violations of the agreement by Mr. Board. The trial court agreed with Mr. Board and required to the State to request permission from the trial court before being allowed to revoke PTI. The State appealed and the appellate court sided with the State, pointing out that Florida law gives all discretion regarding PTI to the prosecution agency.
In many cases where the defendant has no prior record and the case does not involve a violent offense, the State will use its discretion to send the defendant to PTI. The benefits of PTI lie primarily in the fact that the case will be dropped upon successful completion of the program. Being able to apply to have your record sealed or expunged after completion is another nice benefit of PTI. The programs may involve things from community service on the one hand, to classes being taken on the other hand. In many cases, there are multiple requirements, but having the case dropped usually makes the program worth any trouble associated. In many cases, the sooner you can have an attorney working on your behalf to convince the State that PTI is appropriate, then the better your chances of getting into PTI. To speak an experienced Jacksonville criminal lawyer about your case, call us today to schedule a free consultation.