First Time Offenders
Any person who has never been previously charged with a criminal offense can be extremely confused and frightened about what will happen after being arrested for the first time. In these cases, an alleged offender’s lack of a criminal record can often lead to more lenient sentencing and generally favorable outcomes.
Even if an arrest was the first time being taken into custody for a Florida resident or visitor, that person should not assume that a prosecutor will not attempt to use any unfamiliarity with the criminal process to the state’s advantage. While an alleged offender may be offered reduced penalties in exchange for a guilty plea, a conviction can still have many other long-term consequences—not to mention that an experienced attorney may be able to get the criminal charges completely dismissed.Criminal Defense Lawyer for First Time Offenders in Miami-Dade County
Were you or your loved one recently arrested in Florida for the very first time? The Hoffman Firm fights to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed for clients throughout Miami-Dade County.
Miami criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman is a former prosecutor who helps residents of and visitors to such communities as Miami, North Miami, South Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Aventura, Key Biscayne, Hialeah, and Opa Locka. Call (305) 249-0090 or fill out an online contact form right now to take advantage of a free initial consultation that will let our lawyer review your case and help you understand all of your legal options.
Florida First Time Offenders Information Center
- What kinds of crimes are people generally charged with when they are arrested for the first time?
- Are there any programs for people without prior criminal records?
- Where can I find additional information about the judicial system in Miami-Dade County?
Common Criminal Charges for First Time Offenders in North Miami
A person’s first arrest could be the result of any one of a number of criminal offenses. Certain crimes are classified as misdemeanors while others are considered felony offenses.
A few of the crimes that typically account for an individual’s first arrest include, but are not limited to:
- Careless / Reckless Driving;
- Carrying a Concealed Weapon;
- Child Abuse / Neglect;
- Child Molestation;
- Child Pornography;
- Computer Crimes;
- Criminal Mischief;
- Criminal Trespass;
- Date Rape;
- Disorderly Conduct;
- Domestic Battery;
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI);
- Drug Paraphernalia;
- Improper Exhibition of Dangerous Weapon or Firearm;
- Indecent Exposure;
- Juvenile Charges;
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident;
- Lewd and Lascivious Battery;
- Lewd or Lascivious Molestation;
- Minor in Possession;
- Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession;
- Petit Theft;
- Possession of a Controlled Substance;
- Possession of Fake ID;
- Shoplifting / Retail Theft;
- Solicitation of a Prostitute;
- Solicitation of Prostitution;
- Tourist Offenses;
- Traffic Violations;
- Violation of a Protection Order; or
- Worthless Checks.
Alternatives to Jail for First Time Offenders in Miami-Dade County
The primary concern for most people who have been arrested for the first time concerns whether or not they will have to be incarcerated for a period of time. Prison overcrowding concerns have generally led most courts in Florida to prefer probation to imprisonment—especially for non-violent alleged offenders with no prior criminal records.
If a criminal defense attorney is unable to convince a prosecutor to drop the criminal charges, a more favorable outcome may still be achieved through plea bargaining. Depending on the nature of the alleged offense, some of the other resolutions that may be achieved in lieu of jail time can include:
- Drug Courts — The Miami-Dade County Drug Court implemented by the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida in 1989 was the first in the nation. The Drug Court is a diversion and treatment program in which alleged offenders receive intensive treatment and rehabilitation for drug addiction instead of being prosecuted. Under Florida Statute § 948.08(6)(a), eligibility for drug court programs is limited to alleged offenders who have been charged with nonviolent felonies and are identified as having substance abuse problems or charged with a felony of the second or third degree for purchase or possession of a controlled substance, prostitution, tampering with evidence, solicitation for purchase of a controlled substance, or obtaining a prescription by fraud.
- Florida Youthful Offender Act — Alleged who are at least 18 but less than 21 years of age at the time of sentencing or are under 18 years of age and have had their cases transferred to adult court for prosecution may be eligible for supervision on probation or in a community control program under Florida Statute § 958.04 if they plead nolo contendere (no contest) or are found guilty of a felony offense and have not been previously classified as a youthful offender.
- Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project (CMHP) — Alleged offenders with serious mental illnesses (SMI) or co-occurring SMI and substance use disorders who have been charged with misdemeanors may be diverted from the criminal justice system into community-based treatment and support services. If an alleged offender is adjudicated incompetent to stand trial and is found to meet the criteria for involuntary hospitalization, the court may commit him or her to the Department of Children and Families for competency restoration and stabilization.
- Post Arrest Diversion (PAD) or Pre-Trial Diversion (PTD) Program — First-time juvenile offenders charged with misdemeanors may be eligible to participate in a program that keeps them out of the juvenile justice system and have their arrest records expunged upon successful completion of the program.
- Veterans Treatment Court — The veteran’s court model in Florida is based on the principles of drug courts and mental health courts, in which substance abuse or mental health treatment is offered as an alternative to incarceration. Under Florida Statute § 1.01(14), a veteran is defined as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under honorable conditions only or who later received an upgraded discharge under honorable conditions, notwithstanding any action by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs on individuals discharged or released with other than honorable discharges.”
Florida Resources for First Time Offenders
Miami-Dade Police | Miami-Dade County — The Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) serves Miami-Dade County and many unincorporated areas of Florida. On this website, you can find crime statistics over the past five years. You can also view the Florida Law Enforcement Handbook, learn more about the Miami-Dade County Diversion Program, and read the annual report evaluating the Miami-Dade Police Department's Community Policing, Crime Prevention, and Juvenile Programs.
Miami-Dade Police Department
9105 Northwest 25th Street
Doral, FL 33172
(305) 476-5423 (4-POLICE)
Corrections & Rehabilitation | Miami-Dade County — Learn more about the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department’s five correctional facilities. You can find information about inmate visitation and inmate rehabilitation programs. The website also has guidelines for sending mail to inmates as well as visits by attorneys and professionals.
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
2525 Northwest 62nd Street
Miami, Florida 33147
If you or your loved one has been arrested for the first time, it is in your best interest to make sure that you immediately retain legal counsel. The Hoffman Firm helps clients charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout South Florida, including Miami, North Miami, Aventura, Coral Gables, and surrounding areas.
Evan A. Hoffman is a skilled criminal defense attorney in Miami-Dade County who has experience on both sides of the aisle as a former Assistant State Attorney. He can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (305) 249-0090 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.