Diversion Programs Offer an Alternative to Criminal Conviction
A recent article in Florida Today reported on the findings of the state’s taxpayer watchdog group, Florida TaxWatch, related to various diversion programs for criminal activities. The analysis specifically focused on Florida’s pre-arrest diversion for juveniles, but also pointed out how these programs can put taxpayer dollars to better use – as compared to a “tough-on-crime” approach that puts more people in prison.
However, diversion programs aren’t just an advantage for taxpayers. They can also offer a second change for some people who have been charged with certain crimes, so long as they meet eligibility requirements. A Florida criminal defense attorney can tell you more about the details of your case, but here are some answers to your questions about pre-trial intervention (PTI).
What is Florida’s PTI program?
PTI is a plan that dismisses criminal charges against certain criminal defendants, so long as they complete the program requirements. It’s a diversion plan managed by the Department of Corrections, and is similar to a supervised probation that you might have as part of a sentence for some classes of felonies. Common PTI requirements include monthly reporting to the court, paying program supervision fees, doing community service, and completing counseling or educational programs. Once you successfully comply with all program requirements, the felony charge is dismissed.
Am I eligible for the PTI program?
Under Florida law, any first time offender who is charged with a misdemeanor or third degree felony is eligible for PTI; in addition, a person with a prior conviction of one nonviolent misdemeanor may qualify for the program. The Department of Corrections, as administrator of diversion programs, must approve PTI. You must also obtain consent of the victim, prosecuting attorney, and the judge.
Also, if you are charged with a second or third degree felony in a case involving possession of a controlled substance, you may be eligible. Typically, the conditions of your PTI will include completion of a drug treatment program.
Why should I consider Florida’s PTI program?
There are a number of significant benefits of Florida’s diversion program:
- You avoid the stress and cost of a court proceeding;
- You won’t have a permanent criminal conviction on your record;
- You won’t be penalized as you would be if found guilty at a trial; and,
- The treatment and counseling programs tend to reduce the chances that you’ll engage in future criminal activity.
It’s important to note that, while the felony charges are dismissed, the entire record isn’t automatically expunged as it relates to your arrest. Expungement is a separate proceeding.
What are the consequences for violating the terms of PTI?
The prosecuting attorney will most likely remove you from the diversion program and re-institute charges against you for the original crime. You will face the same criminal penalties and legal consequences, so it’s critical to abide by the terms of your PTI arrangement.
Consult with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
A pre-trial diversion program is a smart option if you’re eligible as a criminal defendant in certain types of cases. If you’ve been charged with a crime and qualify for the PTI program, an experienced defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik can assist with the process so that the case against you is dismissed. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.