Pre-trial intervention (PTI) programs are designed to divert minors and defendants of nonviolent crimes from prosecution. These programs typically involve elements intended to educate and rehabilitate individuals. Once the program is completed successfully, criminal charges against the defendant are dismissed.
PTI programs serve many purposes; mainly, they reduce the number of nonviolent offenders serving prison sentences and allow them to rectify their mistakes through community service hours, educational programs, fines, and fees.
How Does Pre-Trial Intervention Program Work in Florida?
Florida Department of Corrections administers PTI programs. Those eligible to participate in the program must agree to its terms and conditions, one of which will include reporting to a supervising officer in predetermined intervals, similar to during probation. The officer will ensure you meet the court’s terms for you.
Other conditions of a PTI may include various elements such as:
- Paying supervision fees, restitution, and other penalties
- Monthly reporting
- Taking random drug tests
- Completing required community service hours
- Participating in the required mental health, alcohol, or drug treatments
At the end of the program, the defendant’s charges are dismissed, providing no conditions of the agreement were violated. You will also be eligible to get your arrest record sealed or expunged.
If you do not comply with the program’s stipulations, you will be removed from the PTI you’re enrolled in, and your criminal case will move forward to trial.
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What Are the Advantages of Pre-Trial Intervention Programs?
Pre-trial intervention programs give specific accused individuals can opportunity to circumvent jail time, prison sentence, and other harsh penalties that accompany a criminal conviction. It also helps offenders avoid retaining a criminal record which can otherwise hamper their opportunities in life in multiple ways.
Specifically, by participating in and completing pre-trial intervention programs in Florida, certain offenders can:
- Avoid stressing over going through the trial proceedings and paying for legal expenses of a criminal trial
- Avoid having a criminal conviction impede their professional opportunities
- Use the vehicle of sealing and expungement to eliminate potential arrest record pointing to the initial offense
- Take advantage of counseling sessions, educational programs, and other resources to rectify their actions that contributed to the crime
- Take advantage of resources present in PTI programs to prevent recidivism, i.e., the tendency to re-offend in the future
Who Qualifies for Pre-trial Intervention Programs?
Not all offenders can participate in Florida PTI programs. It is generally dedicated to defendants charged with nonviolent crimes since they have a strong potential to reform. Unlike PTI programs, incarcerations can harden offenders of low-level crimes.
Specifically, Florida Statutes § 948.08(2) outlines the details of who is eligible for PTI programs. These include:
- First-time offenders or anyone convicted of not more than one non-violent misdemeanor
- An offender that is charged with a misdemeanor or third-degree felony
Note that the defendant will also need the approval of the PTI program’s administrator, the victim’s consent, the state attorney’s consent, and the approval of the judge that presided over your hearing. The defendant or their immediate family are not permitted to personally contact the victim or the victim’s immediate family to get their consent. A pre-trial intervention attorney can help with this step.
Offenders with the following charges may not be eligible for the PTI program:
- First or second-degree felony
- Any violent crime
- Any weapon charges
- Aggravated assault
- Crimes involving organized schemes to defraud
- Attempted residential burglary
- Offenses that involve forging, counterfeiting, or vending private label products
- If you owe restitution worth over $5000 at the time of application
- Possession of LSD, methamphetamine, heroin, PVP, or one or more grams of cocaine
How Do You Gain Admittance Into A Florida Pre-Trial Intervention Program
While the exact process of seeking approval for a pre-trial intervention program may vary throughout Florida, it generally involves:
- Your pre-trial intervention attorney submits an application and other documents to the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) within 45 days from the arraignment date.
- The SAO will process and review the application, which can take 30 to 90 days from the submission date.
- The qualifying offenders are presented to the court, which then directs them to the PTD office.
- The offender meets with their supervising officer, who explains the terms and conditions of the program
- The offender signs the contract officiating their enrollment into the PTI program
- The contract is secured at the SAO office and the clerk’s office
- Upon completion of the program, the offender has all the charges filed against them dismissed
The length of the program may vary but typically last between 12-18 months. You will have to report to your supervising officer at an agreed-upon schedule, for example, once a month. All offenders tend to be subjected to random drug screens, but if you were charged with a drug-related offense, random monthly drug tests would be mandatory.
You will also have to pay any fines, fees, and restitutions at the beginning of the PTI program or in a monthly payment structure.
If you’re facing a criminal charge, especially a misdemeanor or a felony of the third degree, you may qualify for a pre-trial intervention program. This is a valuable opportunity to prevent a criminal conviction from destroying your future. Let our pre-trial intervention program attorney review your case and see if you may be eligible for PTI. Call us for a free consultation with our team today.