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Successfully Completing a Pre-Trial Intervention (Diversion) Program in Florida Guarantees the Dismissal of Your Charge
Diversion programs (Pre Trial Intervention and Domestic Violence Intervention) are designed for individuals who have been accused of committing a third degree felony or a misdemeanor offense in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, or other area of Pinellas County. These programs provide an alternative to the three step process of entering a not guilty plea, proceeding to trial, and having a verdict entered by a jury. People who sucessfully complete a Pinellas County court diversion program avoid the risk associated with a jury trial entirely, because the criminal charge pending against them is dismissed.
The Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office will typically approve our client’s application for participation in a diversion program, if the client has little or no prior criminal history. The written application prepared by our office can emphasize your lack of a significant prior criminal history, the minimal nature of the charge, or any other factors that make you an appropriate candidate for Pre-Trial Intervention. First time misdemeanor or felony offenders are particularly good candidates for the Pre Trial Intervent Program P.T.I. / Diversion programs.
Written application for acceptance into the local diversion program is made by your attorney to the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office. The State Attorney’s Office then reviews the application in order to determine if you are a good candidate for the diversion program. They will also run a background check to confirm the accuracy of your application. If you are approved for participation in the PTI Program, the judge assigned to your case enters a written order that formally suspends the pending case.
Upon acceptance into the program, all court proceedings are suspended. As a result, you will no longer be required to attend any further court hearings. Thereafter, you, your attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge sign a written contract promising the following:
Clearly, the greatest benefit that is realized in completing a diversion program is having the pending charge against you dismissed. A dismissal of your charge represents a final and permanent outcome. You will not be convicted of the crime with which you were charged. Thereafter, you will be able to truthfully state that you were never convicted. You will also sidestep the trial process completely, which minimizes the number of times you would have to appear in court and the expense of additional court costs and attorney’s fees. Having your charge dismissed avoids the expense and uncertain outcome associated with a jury trial. Furthermore, many clients who successfully complete diversion programs are often eligible to have their records sealed or expunged. Learn more about Getting Your Criminal Records Sealed or Expunged.
If you violate the Diversion / P.T.I. program contract, (i.e. you get arrested for a new criminal offense) the legal process resets back to the point where it was before you entered the program. A new pre-trial conference is then scheduled. At this point, your attorney can still enter into plea negotiations with the prosecutor, or at your election, the case can proceed to trial. There are no additional penalties or consequences for failing to complete the diversion program. In some limited circumstances it is possible for your lawyer to seek your reinstatement into the Pre Trial Intervention Program. Generally, this requires a showing that the decision to remove you from PTI was based on faulty information or circumstances that were wll beyond your control. The prosecutor’s office will look at the individual facts and circumstances of each case, including the impact a criminal charge may have on your licensing or occupation.
Our office can handle the application process to the Pinellas County court diversion program for you. Where appropriate, when we submit an application for the diversion program to the State Attorney’s Office, we also include a letter that fully outlines the mitigating facts and circumstances surrounding your case. The correspondence can also highlight positive things about you, such as your education, community involvement, and work experience. These letters can be instrumental in persuading the Assistant State Attorney assigned to your case that you are a good candidate for the program. Subsequent conferences with the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office can likewise be effective in eliciting an offer of admission. Such prompt intervention and individualized attention may result in expediting the diversion program acceptance process. A client who timely begins the diversion application process will often minimize their court appearances, and in some cases, avoid attending court all together.