Solving Your Legal Problem
PROMPT INTERVENTION WITH THE PROSECUTOR
When you are arrested in Hillsborough County, (with the exception of misdemeanor traffic charges), your case is forwarded from the police to the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Intake Division. The Intake Division reviews the facts as provided by law enforcement and makes a decision what formal charges will be filed. The State attorney may also conduct an investigation independent of the police prior to making a charging decision. At the “Intake” stage your attorney can contact the State Attorney and provide them with your version of events and/or provide the State Attorney with witnesses who are favorable to your case. It is not uncommon for the State Attorney, upon discovering this additional information, to file lesser charges or no charges at all.
First time offenders in Hillsborough County, even those charged with some felony charges, may be eligible for a Diversion Program. Diversion programs allow first time offenders the ability to have their charges dismissed. Generally, the programs require community service be performed as well as restitution, if any. The felony diversion program is called “Pretrial Intervention (PTI) and is 18 months in length. The Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office will generally sign off on completion of the program if the offender has completed all conditions in 9 months. The misdemeanor program is referred to as MIP (Misdemeanor Intervention Program). It is generally 6 months in length and the State Attorney will generally allow early termination at 3 months if all conditions have been completed. If your case has been dismissed pursuant to a diversion program you are then usually eligible to have your case expunged. Unfortunately the State Attorney will not allow someone charged with traffic offenses to enter a diversion program.
If you choose to simply plead guilty or “no contest” to dispose of the case an agreed upon disposition can be negotiated between the prosecutor, your attorney, and the Judge. This agreed upon final outcome could often be structured to avoid a formal conviction, extend time to meet court-imposed obligations, and not jeopardize your employment. Quite often a client does not want the charge “hanging over his/her head” and a prompt resolution through plea negotiations can allow them to get on with their life.
WITHHOLDING OF ADJUDICATION
A withholding of adjudication allows a person to resolve the case without suffering a formal conviction of guilt. After receiving a withholding of adjudication a person can truthfully state they have never been convicted of the offense. It is possible, depending on the facts and circumstances, to receive a withholding of adjudication on subsequent unrelated charges.
PLEAS IN ABSENTIA
A plea in absentia allows the case to be satisfactorily settled without the need for a trial or even your personal appearance in court. It is also possible to receive a withholding of adjudication on pleas in absentia. A Plea in Absentia is especially convenient for those who reside out of state.
SEALING OF CRIMINAL RECORDS
The sealing or expungement of your criminal record eliminates your information from public view. This is especially important due to the increased access of public records on the internet. Once your record is sealed or expunged the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, among other agencies, will remove all information of your arrest from public view. This eliminates potential employers or inquisitive friends or neighbors from discovering your record.
To fully understand your options, a thorough evaluation
of the state’s case by an experienced attorney is critical.