Defense for First-Time Offenders

If you have never found yourself in legal trouble before, facing criminal charges can be devastating. An experienced expert in criminal trial law, with extensive experience with first-time offender cases, can help you navigate the system, understand your legal options, and attempt to have your charges dropped or reduced.

If you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges in South Florida, Carter Hillstrom can defend your rights and help you safeguard your good reputation.

Carter Hillstrom serves clients throughout South Florida. Contact our firm today at (954) 667-9267 or email us at carter@carterhillstrom.com to schedule a confidential consultation. We will analyze the charges against you and help you understand your options.

First-time offenders have a variety of alternatives to jail or prison time in Broward or Palm Beach County. Depending on what you are charged with, an experienced criminal trial attorney can help you preserve your freedom and reputation by guiding you toward entry in a special program for first offenders:

Misdemeanor Diversion Program: A program offered by the State Attorney, for first-time offenders charged with misdemeanors including (but not limited to) Possession of Cannabis, Petit Theft, Criminal Mischief, Disorderly Conduct, Gambling, Resisting Arrest without Violence, Trespassing or Driving while License Suspended. The Misdemeanor Diversion Program allows first-time offenders to have their charges dropped in exchange for community service, costs of prosecution and payment of restitution if applicable. Not everyone is immediately eligible for the program, so first-time offenders should contact an experienced criminal trial attorney to help them gain entry and keep their record clean.

Misdemeanor Drug Court: First-time offenders charged with drug offenses may be eligible for the Misdemeanor Drug Court Program, in which offenders can complete a six-month treatment program and see their charges dropped. Drug Court is more intensive than the Misdemeanor Diversion Program, so first-time offenders should consult with a board certified criminal trial attorney to determine if Drug Court is appropriate for your case.

Felony Pre-Trial Intervention Program: A program offered by the State Attorney, for people charged with a felony for the first time. If you have no criminal history, you may be eligible for this program if you’re charged with a non-violent third-degree felony such as drug offenses, Grand Theft or Criminal Mischief. If you’re accepted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, after one year charges will be dropped if you’ve completed the program’s requirements. The Pre-Trial Intervention Program is often difficult to gain entry into, so it’s important for first-time offenders to seek out a lawyer with experience working with State Attorney, to make sure you comply with their requirements.

Felony Drug Court: First-time offenders charged with felony drug offenses may be eligible for this program, in which charges are dropped after completion of a one-year treatment program. Most third-degree felony drug offenses are eligible for this program, which is more intensive than the State Attorney’s Pre-Trial Intervention Program. Felony Drug Court participants must undergo intense drug testing and counseling, and are required to go to court often. While in Drug Court, if a first-time offender fails a drug test, he might find himself in jail for violating the program’s rules. First-time offenders are often automatically sent to Drug Court when they don’t have an attorney to represent them. This difficult program may not be the best choice for all first-time offenders, so it’s important for you to consult with an experienced attorney who can counsel you on whether Drug Court is right for you.

There also exist special programs such as Veteran’s Court and Mental Health Court, that are catered for offenders with specific mental health needs. Most first-time offenders are not eligible for these programs, but if you have a history of mental health issues or military service, you should consult with an experienced attorney who can explain your potential entry into the programs.

In short, if you have been arrested for the first time, do not assume the court or the prosecutor will take it easy on you because you have no criminal history. Anybody facing criminal charges should understand their options and consult with an attorney. To discuss your options, call Carter Hillstrom at 954-667-9267 to schedule a consultation.