How can someone charged with a felony in Tampa Bay, Florida find the best way to have that felony dismissed? A surprising number of cases can be dismissed if action is taken early to make sure that all the conditions necessary for having the case subject to dismissal are met. Your criminal defense lawyer must understand how the dismissal proceeds and be ready to implement the necessary negotiations with prosecutors to make certain that your case falls within the necessary parameters.
In Florida every county by law has some form of Pretrial Intervention which allows for certain misdemeanor and even some felony charges to be subject to a motion for dismissal. In Clearwater, Florida the Pretrial Intervention Program (also known as PTI) is administered by the State Attorney’s Office. This is one of the best way to avoid Florida’s very strict sentencing guidelines.The prosecutors at the State Attorney’s Office have set up the following conditions for acceptance into the PTI program:
- The law enforcement agency which made the initial arrest must agree that the defendant is suitable for the program.
- The victim must agree to the allow the defendant into the program.
- The State Attorney’s Office must make a determination that the public interest is best served by the charges being dismissed.
- The requirements of PTI must be completed.
- Typically the defendant must serve a probationary period of at least six months for a misdemeanor and a year for a felony. During that time other requirements such as counseling, therapy or educational programs must be met. Further, there can be no other arrests nor trouble with the law during that period.
- The charged misconduct usually must be nonviolent though there are exceptions for particular cases such as battery or domestic violence where the need for counseling that could avert future violence may outweigh the need for punishment.
- For a felony the charge must be filed as a third degree felony rather than a first or second degree felony.
Domestic Violence cases and drug cases may be tracked within the domestic violence court and the drug court, otherwise the set conditions and restrictions for PTI remain similar no matter the underlying charged misconduct. After the period of probation is successfully completed the presiding judge will grant a motion from the State Attorney’s Office to dismiss the misdemeanor or felony case.
Dismissal of the case is often the best possible outcome that one can hope for in any type of criminal case. Yet the price for that dismissal is that you admit that you committed the underlying offense, you are punished with probation and during the year or six months of probation your life is in limbo. These are not always easy things to square with the notion of justice and fairness if in fact you did not commit the charged misconduct. Clearly it’s important for your Clearwater criminal defense lawyer to undertake a complete review of the facts and circumstances of your case to determine not only if you broke the law but if there are other less painful remedies available even if your case could be suitable for the Pretrial Intervention Program.