Pretrial diversion and probation are important pieces of the criminal justice process, both carry their own set of eligibility and purpose. If you have been charged with a crime and believe that a diversion program or probation may apply to your case, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney. With legal help, you may be able to avoid jail time and keep your criminal record clean.
Being aware of what diversion and probation are and how they differ can help you remain cognizant of your legal options for getting your charges reduced, dismissed, or deleted from your records. This information is especially critical for first-time offenders facing a misdemeanor or a non-violent charge.
Diversion vs. Probation: What is Pretrial Diversion in Florida?
Pretrial diversion (PTD) programs aim to rehabilitate and divert first-time offenders of non-violent crimes from the traditional criminal justice process, which tends to be more restrictive. Diversion programs give certain offenders an alternative to being convicted of a charge and facing jail time, penalties, and other consequences that a conviction brings.
Qualified defendants are transferred to PTD before their case goes to trial. If you complete all the terms and conditions of the program, the charges against you will be dropped, and you will not face any jail time and other penalties. You will also become eligible to have your arrest record sealed or expunged. On the other hand, if you fail to meet the conditions of the diversion program, your case may move forward to trial.
Who is Eligible for Pretrial Diversion in Florida?
Under Florida law, PTD is available as a prosecution alternative only for the following individuals:
- Offenders with no criminal history
- Offenders with not more than one non-violent misdemeanor — with any misdemeanor or third-degree felony
Most common offenses that get diverted to PTD programs tend to revolve around possession of marijuana, domestic violence, prostitution, and theft. Those charged with serious crimes like weapons charges, aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment fraud, or welfare fraud are not eligible for PTD, even if it’s their first offense.
To consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer today, call 855-780-9986
Diversion vs. Probation: What is Probation?
Probation is court-ordered formal supervision geared towards those charged with misdemeanors or felonies. It allows certain convicts to avoid or serve less jail time if they follow the rules and complete the designated tasks for a specific length of time that cannot exceed the maximum sentence for the offense. Probationers must diligently comply with each term and condition to avoid jail time.
Florida Statutes § 948.03 provides the details of the conditions that constitute probation, such as:
- Report to the probation officer as directed at specified intervals
- Remain within the specified location as required by the court
- Allow the probation officer to visit you at home or elsewhere
- Not violate any law during the probationary period
- Keep working at a suitable employment
- Pay restitution to the victims for loss or damage caused by your crime
- Do not own, possess, or carry any firearm or weapon without the probation charges officer’s consent
The court may modify these rules or impose additional conditions as well.
All probationers must pay fines, court fees, and restitution and report to their probation officer. The rules accompanying felony probation tend to be stricter than misdemeanor probation because of the serious nature of the crime. Felony probation carries higher fines, community service hours, and mandatory completion of rehabilitation programs such as anger management or substance abuse programs.
Types of Probation in Florida
In Florida, there are generally seven types of probation. Your offense will dictate which kind of probation applies to you.
- Standard probation: A basic form of probation where you must follow the conditions mentioned above and meet with your probation officer regularly.
- Administrative probation: A lenient version that includes the stipulations of standard probation, except you do not have to report to your probation officer regularly.
- Community control probation: This type of probation places you under house arrest, which means you are restricted to staying in a specific residential setting.
- Community control II probation: This is a stricter version of community control probation, where along with being confined to a residential setting, a probation officer will supervise you 24×7.
- Drug offender probation: You must take a specific treatment program such as a substance abuse program and submit to random drug tests during the probation.
- Sex offender probation: You must adhere to basic probationary rules, follow a sex offender treatment plan, and be supervised by a surveillance officer.
- Community control-sex offender probation: Along with the regulations under sex offender probation, you will also have to submit blood samples to the Florida Department of Law enforcement.
What Happens if You Violate Probation
Violating any terms of probation can have serious consequences. You may be arrested and sent back to prison. If you were under felony probation, you might have to serve the rest of your original prison sentence. You may also be cited for additional penalties, including fines and new, more restrictive terms, as well as more time may be added to your probation duration.
Contact Us Today
At Bogin, Munns & Munns, we have decades of experience and can help with your criminal case. We are here to help protect your rights and will work to reduce the consequences of a criminal conviction.
If you have any questions regarding pretrial diversion or probation or want to know if it applies to your criminal case, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney today.