In a criminal case, it is not uncommon for a person accused of a crime for the first time to want to keep their record clean or not have a criminal record whatsoever at the conclusion of the case. Unfortunately, if there has been an arrest or the officer instead issued a Notice to Appear, sometimes referred to as a written arrest, then there is already a record. That record will be that the person stands accused of whatever charge the police suggested.
Now that a criminal case has already been opened, started and there is a record of the arrest or Notice to Appear, the choices are relatively simple. (1) the government could dismiss the case, (2) the case can be otherwise settled or (3) take the case to trial. If there is no legal reason to dismiss a case or a dismissal cannot otherwise be forced, then there has to be an agreement to dismiss. Being accused for the first time is not a legal reason to dismiss a case. However, having an otherwise spotless record and/or other legal issues such as a suspect traffic stop or bad/biased investigative methodology can be reasons to reach an agreement to dismisss.
These agreements are called different names in different jurisdictions. Common names in Florida are Diversion or Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) which is different than a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), at least here in North Florida. Usually a PTI/diversion looks and feels like probation. In Diversion/PTI there is a monthly reporting to a probation officer even though it is not probation, random urinalysis is required and that is in addition to any special conditions such as community service hours, fines, costs of prosecution, charitable donations etc. Meanwhile, a DPA usually has no reporting requirement. However, a Deferred may still require community service hours, letter of apology and some monetary obligation or other conditions tailored to the situation.
Both of these types of agreements will usually lead to a dismissal of a charge or in some cases a reduction of the charge after time. The time period is something that is agreed to with the prosecuting authorities. Because the Defendant is agreeing to delay prosecution under either agreement structure, a waiver of the right to a speedy trial is also required or will be imposed on the accused. Either resolution requires conditions be met by the accused.
People are usually interested in the quickest way to get rid of ‘the stain on the record’. The quickest way to keep a record clean is to get the case dismissed as quickly as possible. Then once the case is dismissed it can be expunged, if you qualify. A petition to expunge is another procedure wholly separate and apart from the current case.
If this all seems like a scary process, that is because it can be a scary process, especially if you are alone. The process is governed by rules of procedure and conduct. A defense lawyer can help you or your loved one navigate through the process. To have an attorney help in your case please click, call or fill out the form.
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