Legal Guide For First Time Offenders in Florida
As the name implies, a first offender is a person who is convicted of a crime for the first time. Both adults and juveniles can be first time offenders. Punishment always depends on the type of crime committed. Sentencing guidelines are often more lenient for people who committed crimes for the first time. Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney with years of experience can make the difference as to whether you will have a criminal record or not. So, in Palm Beach County, Martin County, Okeechobee County, St. Lucie County and all of South Florida, if you have been arrested and are a first time offender get legal advice from Criminal Defense Lawyer Andrew D. Stine and help position yourself for a clean record.
To meet the condition of a 1st time offender, a person needs to prove he or she has no other exposure to crimes in their life time. Driving infractions do not count as a criminal record, but some vehicle infractions are criminal traffic like, Driving Under Suspension and Reckless Driving so when meeting with Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D Stine he will ask pointed questions of those first time offenders to assure they have no criminal traffic in their background. Remember to that those who have been arrested, or tried and later released or acquitted of crimes are not considered 1st time offenders under the law. I know it seems unfair, but the exposure to the criminal system is what State Attorney’s look at.
The underlining idea behind the concept of the 1st time offender is that a person is not in habit of committing a crime and is fully aware of legal ramifications of committing a crime in the first place. Many first time offenders are convicted of relatively minor offenses, such as shoplifting or driving under the influence. It is often in the interest of the court and the state to ensure that the criminal lifestyle does not become a habit for a first offender, rather than ensuring they are punished to the maximum limit of the law.
The Distinction Between Violent and Non-Violent Crimes
A crime is considered non-violent when it does not cause physical harm against another person.
Examples of common non-violent offenses include but not limited to the following:
• Most property crimes, such as theft, embezzlement, and receipt of stolen goods,
• Fraud, tax crimes, other forms of white collar crime
• Drug and alcohol-related crimes
• Racketeering and gambling
• Animal Abuse
Violent crimes are often times called “offenses against the person”. A violent crime is a crime in which the offender uses or threatens to use violent force upon the victim. Examples of common violent offenses are:
• Assault and battery
• Homicides, including 1st or 2nd degree murder and manslaughter
• Domestic violence
• Robbery (theft involving force)
• Sexual assault and abuse crimes
Non-violent first offenders may sometimes be able to have their crimes expunged if they pursue an active program of lawful behavior. In 2009, the US House of Representatives began studies on the Second Chance Act, which would permit records to be expunged for first time offenders who complete substance abuse programs, receive a high school diploma, and perform a year of community service. Removing the stigma of a conviction is needed to help former convicts break ties with their past and pursue a lawful future.
Most first time offenders commit crimes that are nonviolent or drug related. Some of the most common first offenses in Florida include:
• Possession of a Controlled Substance
• Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
• Possession with Intent to Sell
• Minor in Possession of Alcohol
• Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
• Reckless Driving
• Criminal Mischief
• Petit Theft
Most times a first offender is eligible for lenient or diversionary treatment if the crime committed is non-violent. Criminal Defense Lawyer Andrew D. Stine has placed thousands of defendant’s on his program called “road map to success.” While following Attorney Stine’s roadmap to success, the client performs tasks and schools to assist in getting his or her case/criminal charges dismissed. Whether the arrest happened in Palm Beach County or Okeechobee County the proactive style Attorney Stine commands and his fearless nature of jury trials has led to hundreds of his clients cases being Dismissed or Nolle Prosses.
A person who commits a violent crime is generally also eligible for the road map to success but their crime may be considered a threat to society, thus making their rehabilitation less important to the criminal justice system and the system meaning judges and prosecutors, may want to incarcerate them under the policy of “protection of the public.” Experienced Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer, Andrew D. Stine, will guide you whether your crime is a Domestic Battery or a Murder.
First Offender Program
People charged with relatively low-level or non-violent crimes may be able to avoid a trial or plea by using a diversion or first offender program. The 1st offender program may involve the following which West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney, Stine, has implemented into his road map of success.
Here is a list you may expect:
• Mandatory counseling or educational courses in relation to the crime involved
• Payment of restitution (monetary payment to the victim to reimburse them for losses)
• Community service, typically performed on weekends
• Drug, alcohol, or psychiatric rehabilitative counseling
• Letters of apology to the victim(s)
Options for First-Time Offenders in Palm Beach County
If you are a first time offender, there are options available that are designed to help rehabilitate you while also helping you avoid serious jail time. These options include:
• Pretrial Intervention Program – This is a program that is run by the state attorney’s office that allows the charges to be dropped after the defendant completes the specified terms in the agreement. These terms usually include community service, psychological counseling, and restitution.
• Drug Court – The state may allow defendants this option if the defendant can prove that his or her offense was addiction related, and that he or she could benefit from a drug court program. In conjunction with drug court, the defendant will usually have to complete terms laid out in a pretrial intervention program and or probation. If all requirements are met, the state may reduce or drop the charges.
• Intervention Before Prosecution Files Charges – This is an option for individuals who strongly want to retain a clean record and can show evidence that supports their claim that they will never commit the offense again. The defendant’s attorney can also use this time to review the evidence and try to point out inconsistencies that could have the case dismissed.
• Plea Bargain – The defendant’s attorney can use the fact that the defendant has no criminal history to negotiate terms of a plea deal that usually includes probation, drug rehab, deferred adjudication, or DUI School.
These are just some of the options available to first time offenders. There may be more options available that are better for your specific circumstance. It is important that you contact an experienced defense attorney who can inform you on all of your legal options. Remember also that if you are considering a trial, West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney, Andrew D. Stine has been trying cases successful, felony and misdemeanor, for well over a decade and boost a trial record unsurpassed by all others.
West Palm Beach First Time Offender Attorney
Andrew D. Stine compassionately represents clients who have been charged with their first crime. He proudly serves Palm Beach County, including the areas of West Palm Beach, Tequesta, Lantana, Pahokee, North Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, Wellington, Lake-Worth, Lake Clark Shores, Palm Beach Shores, and the surrounding areas. Criminal Defense Attorney Stine has served over 5,000 clients in Florida, and has a proven successful track record in and out of the courtroom. Additionally, Criminal Defense Attorney Stine will never take government money, the same people prosecuting you, to represent a client. Do not leave your freedom, reputation, and life in the hands of those attorneys who take money from the government to represent those accused of a crime.
The judiciary which is the body of government were criminal defense lawyers fall into, should always remain free of the executive branch money-the branch of government that is headed by the prosecutors. Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine has always remained independent of the executive branch money, offered by the government to represent those accused of crimes, as he understands that the stick daggles the carrot but after the carrot comes the stick. “I refuse to allow my clients to get the stick.”
Contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at 561-832-1170 and set up a free consultation on your first time offense. The sooner you contact West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Stine, the sooner he can get you started on planning the best possible strategy for your defense.