Each state has enacted its own laws, sentencing and penalties for misdemeanor and felony crimes. Of all states, Florida has a reputation for imposing some of the harshest penalties for criminal violations, along with Arizona and Texas.
What if you get into trouble with the law, is there anything you can do to minimize the consequences you face? If you’ve never been in trouble before and you’re charged with your first offense, you may be eligible to participate in a “pre-trial diversion” program.
In Miami-Dade County, the pre-trial diversion programs are brought to criminal defendants by the State Attorney’s Office and thankfully so. These programs are an alternative to traditional sentencing and prosecution and anyone who is eligible should take advantage of them.
Let’s say that you’re approved for diversion and you agree to enter one of the applicable programs, then you’ll be bound to a set of conditions. You may be required to do any of the following:
- Attend classes
- Perform community service
- Pay restitution to your victims (where applicable)
- Meet other conditions as required
Why is a pre-trial diversion so appealing to criminal defendants? Because, once a person successfully completes the program, the prosecutor will dismiss their charges. If the participant fails to complete the program, their case will be sent back to court and they will have to stand trial.
Pre-Trial Diversion Programs in Miami-Dade County
There are three main pre-trial diversion programs available in Miami-Dade County, including drug court, misdemeanor diversion, and traffic case diversion.
1. Drug Court: Drug court is for criminal defendants who are being charged with felony possession or purchasing a controlled substance.
2. Misdemeanor Diversion: The Advocate Program is delivered by a private provider who is responsible for handling all misdemeanor diversion cases. Participants enroll in various classes and group counseling sessions, such as anger management, shoplifting prevention, and classes for substance abuse, parenting, and weapons safety.
3. Traffic Case Diversion: For traffic cases, there is the “Drive Legal” program, a pre-trial diversion program developed for people whose licenses are suspended due to their failure to pay a court fine or appear in court. If the driver successfully completes the program, their case may be dismissed.
If you’re facing criminal charges, the best option is to fight and win your case, but if there is overwhelming evidence and that’s not possible, pre-trial diversion can be a great alternative over a traditional prosecution which typically results in fines, imprisonment, and a permanent criminal record.
Need a Miami criminal defense lawyer? Contact my firm to schedule a free case evaluation. As a former prosecutor with over 30 years of experience, I can defend you!