Second chances are some of the best opportunities that we can come across in life, especially when it comes to criminal liability. Many criminal systems throughout the country have created systems that allow first-time offenders to undergo rehabilitative treatment in lieu of jail time. Known as Pre-Trial Intervention (“PTI”) programs or Deferred Prosecution (“DP”), the participant is allowed to perform community service, take a series of courses, or accomplish some other activity in exchange for a deferment of prosecution. Upon successful completion, the defendant will typically not have a criminal record and will also likely not have to pay legal fees commonly associated with criminal proceedings.
According to Florida Statute Section 948.08, prosecutors in Florida can choose whether to opt for a PTI program as opposed to prosecuting a case against a first-time offender. Typically, if the first-time offender committed a non-violent crime, the prosecution will offer a PTI program in lieu of prosecuting the charge. This program also allows a successful participant to seek the expungement or sealing of his or her record, which can further facilitate rehabilitation.
Often, defendants find themselves facing a difficult situation when the prosecutor revokes the PTI program after the defendant has completed the program partially or in full. In 1990, a defendant faced this very issue. The prosecution revoked the defendant’s PTI agreement, and the defendant filed a motion seeking specific performance of the prosecution’s offer. The lower court agreed that the prosecution could not revoke the PTI program offer once the defendant started complying with its provisions and granted the defendant’s motion.
On appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed, finding that “the statute creating the pretrial investigation program places no limitations on the state’s discretion to reinstate prosecution after a pretrial intervention has been approved…” The court also concluded that the court lacked the authority to compel the prosecution to place the defendant on a PTI program. Before quashing the order, however, the court noted that the defendant may be able to seek dismissal of the action based on the state’s revocation of the PTI program offer, as opposed to seeking specific performance of the PTI program.
If you are a first-time offender and are facing charges for a non-violent crime, it is important to understand the scope of your rights under this program. Obtaining written verification of the PTI offer and ensuring that the prosecution’s offer was made in good faith can prevent you from facing complications down the road.
At The Hoffman Firm, we have represented many criminal defendants throughout South Florida who are facing charges of drug crimes and a broad range of other offenses. We know what it takes to ensure that your rights are protected and asserted at every step of the case. If you are a first-time offender, criminal justice can be incredibly stressful and confusing, and it can be hard to know how to protect your best interests.
We can stand by you through every step of the process and provide you with the compassionate and dedicated legal counsel that you deserve. Call us now at (305) 928-1669 or contact us online to set up your free, confidential consultation now.