Pretrial Intervention in Florida
Pretrial intervention (sometimes also called pretrial diversion) is a supervisory program similar to probation. It is administered by the State of Florida through the Department of Corrections. Under certain circumstances, if you are charged with a crime the pretrial intervention (PTI) program offers an opportunity to divert your case from the traditional judicial process of plea or trial and sentence, thereby avoiding a criminal record and jail time. If you are admitted into and successfully complete a PTI program, the charge against you will be dismissed.
Who is eligible for pretrial intervention?
The purpose of the pretrial intervention program is to provide appropriate counseling, education, supervision, and medical and psychological treatment to certain first-time offenders or offenders with substance abuse problems. Pretrial intervention is available to a first-time offender, or an individual previously convicted of one nonviolent misdemeanor, who is charged with a misdemeanor or third degree felony. Admission to a PTI program requires consent from:
- the prosecutor;
- the victim; and
- the judge who presided at the defendant’s preliminary hearing.
Additionally, the statute forbids the defendant or the defendant’s family from contacting the victim or the victim’s family to obtain consent for the defendant’s admission to pretrial intervention. Finally, before entering PTI a defendant must:
- consult with an lawyer;
- voluntarily agree to enter the program; and
- knowingly and intelligently waive the right to a speedy trial for the duration of the program.
Pretrial substance abuse and treatment intervention is available to an individual who has not been previously convicted of a felony and who is charged with:
- A nonviolent, nontraffic misdemeanor, if also identified as having a substance abuse issue;
- A misdemeanor for possession of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia;
- Possession of alcohol while under 21 years of age; or
- Possession of a controlled substance without a valid prescription.
If, however, the prosecutor believes that the defendant was involved in dealing and selling controlled substances, a hearing will be held prior to admitting the defendant to substance abuse and treatment intervention. If the prosecutor can establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant in fact was dealing controlled substances, the defendant cannot be admitted to the PTI program.
Pretrial intervention also exists for veterans or members of the armed services who are charged with certain felonies and who suffer from military-service related mental illness, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse disorder, or a psychological problem.
Must a defendant plead guilty to enter pretrial intervention?
The particular terms of each judicial district’s pretrial intervention program are set by the state’s lawyer for that district. Some programs require a defendant to admit guilt or responsibility in order to participate. The state may be able to use this admission of guilt against a defendant who fails PTI and subsequently faces trial on the criminal charges.
Consult an Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been arrested for a crime in Florida, you need the services of an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer. The skilled criminal defense lawyers of The Baez Law Group have successfully represented clients in a wide variety of criminal matters in Orlando, Miami, Tampa, and throughout the state. Contact us for a consultation about your case today.