Being charged with a criminal offense is a life-changing event for anyone. If you have not been through the criminal justice system, and have recently been charged with a crime in the State of Florida, you are probably worried about the effect that a conviction will have on your future – and for good reason. One option that may be available to you is the Pre-Trial Intervention program, or PTI.
The State of Florida recognizes that not everyone who is charged with a crime, even if they are guilty, is a bad person. The state also understands the negative consequences of a conviction. Therefore, they created the PTI program as an option for individuals who do not wish to risk taking their case to trial but who also do not want to live with a conviction on their record.
Administered by the State of Florida through the Department of Corrections, the PTI program is similar to a period of probation except it occurs prior to trial or conviction, not after. More importantly, an individual who completes the PTI program will have his or her charges dismissed. In essence, the PTI program provides a defendant with the ability to avoid a conviction altogether by successfully completing the program.
There is no “one-size fits all” when it comes to the terms and conditions imposed on a PTI program participant. Typically, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to decide what conditions you must satisfy to complete the program. There are, however, some common terms and conditions frequently found in a TPI program agreement, including:
- A length of supervision with monthly reporting
- Community service work
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Payment of fees and/or restitution
- Counseling or classes if appropriate
Not everyone is eligible to participate in the PTI program. According to Fla. Stat. § 948.08:
“Any first offender, or any person previously convicted of not more than one nonviolent misdemeanor, who is charged with any misdemeanor or felony of the third degree is eligible for release to the pretrial intervention program on the approval of the administrator of the program and the consent of the victim, the state attorney, and the judge who presided at the initial appearance hearing of the offender.”
It is important to understand that not only does your past criminal history (or lack thereof) count, but your current charges matter as well when determining your eligibility. In addition, take note that along with the judge and prosecutor on your case, a victim may also prevent you from being allowed to participate in the program.
If you are currently facing criminal charges in the State of Florida and you believe that you may be eligible for the Pre-Trial Intervention program, be sure to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.