Is this your first time offending the law? The experience can be confusing especially if you want to avoid prosecution. Luckily, first offender programs exist to help with these kinds of dilemma.
First offender programs give you time to avoid conviction if you have no previous criminal or felony charges. Remember that this is often only available for criminal charges. Parking violations do not count as a criminal charge.
Eligibility for the program will vary depending on which state you are in. There are some states that don’t allow participation. Alternatively, there are some states that let you in the program even if you’re facing felony charges. Nevertheless, most first offender programs cater only to those that do not have a “serious” criminal offense. It’s worth noting that many states also cater first offender programs to juveniles.
How to Escape Persecution Through the Program
Let me give you an example. Let’s say a person is facing charges in Wisconsin. For him to avail of the first offender program, he must comply with certain requirements. This includes no prior convictions. Afterwards, the defendant has to attend classes and proper counseling. The defendant may have to follow this program for six months or more. Once he has finished the program, the court will reduce or dismiss his charges. Otherwise, the prosecution will go through typical court proceedings.
Another example is the SAGE project based popularly in San Francisco. This project removes women from sexual exploitation and educates any parties involved.
Details of First Offender Programs
There are certain states that hold programs that aren’t “diversions”. One example is a state that holds first offender programs that aim to “punish” alcoholics. This is in contrast to diverting their conviction. Part of their sentence are first offender programs.
People charged with federal drug crimes can avail the federal diversion program. To be qualified, you must not have prior convictions regarding controlled substance. Also, you may only avail this program once.
People who avail the program should plead guilty, but their conviction isn’t placed on the record. Once they have completed their probation period, their charges are now private. If the defendant violate the terms though, they will undergo proper sentencing.
People who offend the law under the age of 21 and complete the probation get different treatment. Their record will completely become expunged and kept privately by the court. Furthermore, they are allowed to deny questions regarding their arrest. This is useful when you face school and job interviews in the future. Also, the court will only use your private charges for future reference regarding the program.
Your Other Options
If this is your first time facing criminal charges, you want to seek a lawyer’s advice. A lawyer’s advice is important especially if you doubt about your qualification for the program. The rules will always vary between states, and even counties. Also, you want to know your best course of action when you find that you are not eligible for the program. Hiring a lawyer may save you a lot of time and money in the long run. If you do not have an attorney yet, click here.
The First Offender program is the best way for a defendant to avoid the full effects of criminal prosecution. However, if you can’t qualify with the program, you have other options. So be sure to ask your lawyer.