First Time Offenders
Few experiences can be as frightening as being arrested for the first time. When a person with no prior criminal record is taken into custody and is charged with a criminal offense, his or her mind immediately fills with a multitude of concerns.
In many cases, the lack of a criminal record can be used to an alleged offender’s advantage so he or she can receive a more lenient sentence. People should not assume, however, that prosecutors will not attempt to use an alleged offender’s inexperience to get him or her to plead guilty to a seemingly reduced charge that might still carry serious long-term consequences.Criminal Defense Lawyer for First Time Offenders in Broward County, FL
If you or your loved one was arrested for the first time in Florida, it will be in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. The Hoffman Firm fights to get the most favorable outcomes for clients with no prior offenses on their criminal records.
Evan A. Hoffman is a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who represents residents of and visitors to Broward County, including Hallandale Beach, Lauderhill, Dania Beach, Margate, Cooper City, and many surrounding areas. He can review your case and help you understand your legal options when you call (954) 524-4474 or submit an online contact form to take advantage of a free consultation.
Overview of First Time Offenders in Florida
- Which types of criminal offenses are usually people’s first arrests?
- How do diversion programs work?
- Where can I learn more about law enforcement in Broward County?
Types of Criminal Charges for First Time Offenders in Fort Lauderdale
First arrests are not limited to certain types of crimes. The commission of any one of a number of alleged offenses can lead to a person being taken into custody.
Whether a crime is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony and how that offense is graded depends on the specific capture of the alleged offense. Some of the most common causes of first arrests include, but are not limited to:
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia;
- Possession of Controlled Substance;
- Possession of a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Sale;
- Possession of Prescription Drugs;
- Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession;
- Felony Marijuana Possession;
- Petit Theft;
- Shoplifting / Retail Theft;
- Criminal Trespass;
- Criminal Mischief;
- Computer Crimes;
- Worthless Checks;
- Credit Card Fraud;
- Resisting Arrest;
- Minor in Possession;
- Possession of Fake ID;
- Disorderly Conduct;
- Carry Concealed Weapon;
- Improper Exhibition of Dangerous Weapon or Firearm;
- Discharging a Firearm in Public;
- Using Firearm While Under the Influence;
- Violation of a Protection Order;
- Child Abuse / Neglect;
- Child Pornography;
- Indecent Exposure;
- Lewd and Lascivious Battery;
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation;
- Solicitation of a Prostitute;
- Statutory Rape;
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI);
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID);
- Drugged Driving and Marijuana;
- Drugged Driving and Prescription Drugs;
- Underage DUI;
- Boating Under the Influence;
- Commercial Truck DUI;
- Bicycle DUI;
- Concealment of a Firearm;
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident;
- Fleeing and Eluding;
- Careless/Reckless Driving;
- No Valid Driver’s License/Expired Driver’s License;
- Driving While License Suspended, Cancelled, or Revoked;
- Racing on a Highway;
- Speeding; or
- Open Container.
Pre-Trial Intervention and Diversion Programs for First Time Offenders in Broward County
Alleged offenders with no prior criminal records are often eligible to participate in programs that allow them to avoid convictions and possibly have criminal charges dismissed through successful completion of the terms of a specific program. The Broward County State Attorney's Office has a misdemeanor diversion program (MDP, often referred to as a pre-trial diversion or PTD program) for alleged offenders charged with certain misdemeanors and a felony pre-trial intervention (PTI) program for people accused of felony offenses.
Acceptance into either program is not automatic. Alleged offenders must apply and be approved by the state attorney and judge for participation.
Applicants for the MDP program must have never previously entered into any diversion program and must have no prior adult felony or misdemeanor arrests and /or convictions or withholds of adjudication. Applicants for the PTI program must have no prior adult felony convictions and no more than one prior conviction for a non-violent misdemeanor crime.
In order to participate in the MDP program, an alleged offender must be charged with one of the following offenses:
- Curfew violations;
- County Ordinance violations (excluding building, zoning and fire code);
- Criminal Mischief;
- Disorderly Conduct/Disorderly Intoxication;
- False Name/Identity offenses;
- Fish and Game (excluding endangering protected wildlife, serious case designations);
- Handicap Sticker Violations (excluding fraud in obtaining);
- Loitering and Prowling (excluding cases with sexual, lewd or obscene content);
- No Valid Driver’s License (excluding accident cases);
- Petit Theft (excluding theft from a government entity or employer);
- Possession of Alcohol by a Minor;
- Possession of Cannabis and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia;
- Prostitution or Solicitation for Prostitution;
- Resisting Arrest Without Violence;
- State Park violations (excluding cases with sexual, lewd or obscene content);
- Trespass; or
- Unlawful Use or Possession of Driver’s License or I.D. Card.
The following types of misdemeanor cases are examined on a case-by-case basis:
- Animal Abuse;
- Certain Weapons Offenses;
- Concealed weapon charges at government buildings;
- Contributing to the Delinquency/Dependency of a Minor;
- Counterfeit Label, Trademark, Service Mark related charges where dealing in several items of merchandise;
- Environmental/Litter violations;
- Failure to Obey;
- False Statement to Law Enforcement/Perjury non-official proceedings/False 911 call;
- Fish and Game (endangering protected wildlife, serious case designations);
- Indecent Exposure (with sexual, lewd or obscene content);
- No Valid Driver’s License (accident cases);
- Offenses originally charged as Felonies;
- Petit Theft (from a government entity or employer);
- Unlicensed Contractor; or
- Worthless Check.
Alleged offenders charged with misdemeanor DUI, domestic Violence, weapons offenses at airports or seaports, or other criminal traffic offenses are ineligible and will not be approved for participation in the MDP program.
In order for an alleged offender to be eligible to participate in the felony PTI program, he or she must be charged with a non-violent third-degree felony offense. A person charged with a felony of the second degree or higher is not eligible, and people charged with the following third-degree felonies will also be ineligible:
- Multiple charge/count situations (two or more charges/counts) where the charges/counts arise out of separate factual circumstances and criminal transactions;
- Sale or delivery of any controlled substance prohibited by the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act;
- Possession of any quantity of heroin, methamphetamine or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD);
- Possession of one-half gram of cocaine or greater;
- Possession of any drug prohibited by the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act that is inconsistent with personal use;
- All third-degree felonies relating to Welfare Fraud;
- All third-degree felonies relating to Unemployment Compensation;
- All third-degree felonies relating to Gambling;
- All third-degree felonies relating to Weapons and Firearms;
- All third-degree felonies relating to Prostitution;
- All third-degree felonies where the actual loss to the victim exceeds the monetary amount of $5,000.00, unless the victim specifically consents to the entry of the individual if the restitution amount exceeds $5,000.00 and it appears that the amount of restitution can be repaid within the 12-month period of PTI supervision;
- All third-degree felonies charged by indictment;
- All third-degree felonies involving abuse of a minor child;
- Offenses against governmental entities;
- Possession of anti-shoplifting control device;
- Attempted residential Burglary; or
- Offenses involving vending, forging or counterfeiting private labels.
First Time Offender Resources in Florida
Broward Sheriff's Office — The Broward Sheriff's Office provides law enforcement for many areas throughout Broward County, including Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. On this website, you can learn more about the office’s special units, jail facilities, and community services. You can also find information relating to the Pre-Trial Services Division, including treatment programs and supervision divisions.
Broward Sheriff's Office
2601 W. Broward Blvd.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312
Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD) — Visit this website to learn about the FLPD. You can find crime statistics, an archive of press releases, and maps of police districts and zones. The website also has answers to frequently asked questions.
Fort Lauderdale Police Department
1300 W. Broward Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
Are you facing criminal charges for the first time after being arrested in Florida? The Hoffman Firm aggressively defends clients in Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Miramar, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, and several other nearby communities in Broward County.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman has experience on both sides of the aisle as a former Assistant State Attorney for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office. Call (954) 524-4474 or fill out an online contact form today to have him evaluate your case during a free, confidential consultation.