Criminal defense representation requires knowing which tools are available for which issues. Let’s face it, NO ONE is PERFECT. Sometimes certain situations do not go as planned and you find yourself in a legal nightmare, facing criminal charges. Getting arrested even for a small crime can feel like the end of the world for you and your family members. That overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety can be reduced if you know your options.
Getting charged with a misdemeanor does not necessarily mean that you are going to jail. Depending on the crime, facts surrounding your arrest and your history, there are options that could essentially have your case dismissed. If this is your first offense and you meet certain criteria, your attorney may be able to get you into a Pre-Trial Diversion Program. Pre-Trial Diversion is an excellent program for first time offenders which can consist of community service, substance abuse classes, drug testing, counseling, etc. The beauty of Pre-Trial Diversion is that once you complete your assigned program(s) and pay your fines and costs, your case is dismissed! However, you can only enter the Pre-Trial Diversion Program once. Therefore, it’s important to speak to a criminal defense attorney to weigh your options before making a decision.
Another option that can be utilized is Youthful Offender. By applying for and being adjudicated a Youthful Offender, your records are sealed. Youthful Offender status can be used by anyone who’s crime was committed before the age of 21. You can only be adjudicated as a Youthful Offender once.
Both Pre-Trial Diversion and Youthful Offender are great tools to utilize to ensure that your little slip up does not ruin your future plans. It is important to contact a lawyer immediately after your arrest to ensure that your rights are protected and to discuss what works best for your situation. Like anything else in life, there is a price attached to these programs, and the Court’s expectations will be high. The reward on the other end is either a clean record, or a record that will be sealed.