Diversion Programs / Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) in Florida
Many of our clients at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. are non-violent first-time offenders. If you fall into this category, you may be eligible to apply for a "Diversion Program" which could lead to the charge(s) against you being dismissed! While different counties in the Tampa Bay area have different names for this type of a program (Pinellas County calls their Diversion Program "Pre-Trial Intervention" or "PTI," while Hillsborough County calls their Diversion Program the "Misdemeanor Intervention Program" or "MIP"), most Diversion Programs work the same way.
However, the general rule is this: Early Intervention is the Key.
Blake & Dorsten, P.A. will often meet with and/or speak to the Assistant State Attorney investigating your case. Sometimes, your "first-time offender" status can be used as leverage and put to your advantage. If contacted while your case is still in the investigative stage (before a formal charge is filed), the State Attorney's Office can agree to divert your case outside of the normal court process. This can often allow your attorney to appear in Court on your behalf without your appearance (leaving you free to attend to your work and/or family obligations).
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) is usually limited to misdemeanor offenses (other than traffic-related offenses like DUI) and certain non-violent Felony cases (like Grand Theft, Possession of a Controlled Substance or Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud). If you are fortunate enough to have the State Attorney's Office approve your case for their Diversion Program, you will meet with a probation officer who will go over the terms of your Agreement with you.
The State Attorney's Office (alone) will decide on the terms of your Agreement. Usually, you will be asked to complete some community service hours. In many cases, there will be some form of treatment or counseling that is relevant to your charge. For instance, if you are charged with a Battery, the State Attorney's Office may ask that you complete an anger management class. If you are charged with Petit Theft or Grand Theft, the State will usually request that you complete a shoplifter's awareness course. If you are charged with Possession of Marijuana, the State of Florida may order random urinalysis and/or that you complete a substance abuse evaluation and any follow-up treatment that is recommended. The standard length of time to complete a Diversion Program is twelve (12) months but that often varies from county to county.
The main advantage to completing the State of Florida's Diversion or Pre-Trial Intervention Program is the following: If you complete the Program successfully, the State Attorney's Office will dismiss the charge against you!! This may allow you to follow-up your case with a Petition to Seal and/or Expunge your Arrest Record.
You will usually only get once chance (in your life) to apply for and complete such a program. As a result, it needs to be taken very seriously. If you violate the terms of your Agreement (i.e., by providing a dirty urine sample, or not completing the requested community service hours or getting arrested for a new criminal offense), the State of Florida will remove you from their program and your case will be sent back to Court to go through the normal court process (and you will be looking at the same initial penalties that you were given a chance to avoid).
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested and would like to know whether or not you/they are a good candidate to apply for the State of Florida's Diversion or Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) Program, please contact the criminal defense attorneys of the Clearwater-based Blake & Dorsten, P.A. at 727.286.6141. You will speak directly with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will be able to evaluate your case and determine whether or not you may be eligible for this type of program.