Diversion Programs for First Time Offenders

For a first time offender there are several options available. Number one is the diversion program. Diversion is when a legal issue is settled outside the legal system. Orange County and Osceola County are unique in that they have a very robust diversion program, which has requirements very similar to probation. You would be evaluated to see if you have a drug issue, and whether that needs to be addressed through treatment. You’d also do some community service hours.

The real beauty of the diversion program is that if you’re accepted and you comply with all the requests, the State Attorney’s Office will dismiss the charge against you. This is what happens in about 99 out of 100 cases of a first time simple drug offense, regardless of the drug. Understand, that’s under a trafficking amount, but it is likely that there is going to be a pretty clear path to get you back to a clean record.

The worse thing I see is people that don’t think they need an criminal defense attorney for their first court hearing. They just say “I did it”, fall on their sword and plead guilty, unaware that there are programs that can help them avoid many of the potential negatives consequences of their situation. Now they’re looking at having a felony on their record when that didn’t need to be the case. Some of the better judges or prosecutors well let them know about the program, but they are not required to do so.

I’ve seen people slip through the cracks because they didn’t talk to a knowledgeable attorney. They didn’t know that these options were available. The first time offenders have a pretty clear path to get back to a clean record if they’re not selling and if the threshold amount’s under a trafficking amount.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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