Diversion programs are favorable to the government and unfavorable my client. The good news is that upon completion of a diversion program, the charges will be dismissed. The bad news is, when compared to a negotiated dismissal, the negotiated dismissal may be is simple as two minor conditions that take 15 minutes to complete. A diversion program can last six months to a year involving multiple classes and meetings on an inconvenient schedule. Diversion programs generally are extremely burdensome by design, come with a ridiculous amount of requirements which interfere with school and/or work for many months, and are an easy sell for a prosecutor acting like they really are on your side.
In other words, diversion programs are one of those things that look too good to be true precisely because they are. A skilled criminal defense attorney can usually obtain a negotiated dismissal that’s not nearly as burdensome and dangerous as a diversion program. Classic example: many diversion programs require people to plead no contest or guilty, and then the person is loaded up with so many conditions that it’s inevitable that they will violate. If they violate the diversion program and end up with the conviction, they have criminal history that can never be expunged and that will show up as substance abuse criminal history in the eyes of any future employer. Employers are going to look this very negatively, particularly military and other government employers.
Why People Should Never Go To Court And Plead Guilty To Minor In Possession Charges
It’s never a good idea to walk into your first court date and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. I’ll never forget being in arraignment court (the first court date is only for formal charging, not a trial) when I saw a judge I went to high school with throw an unrepresented professional businesswoman in jail for the maximum penalty on a charge of not having a current driver’s license. People charged with MIP often show up to court unrepresented and make the same mistake.
The court knows that you want to get the case over with as quickly as possible and so they put a lot of legal landmines out for you to step on along the way. We immediately protect our clients by filing a written plea of not guilty, and then have the person charged excused from having to appear at court for the first court date. We then will move other court dates around as needed while gathering evidence, comparing our client’s side of the story to the government’s, and we take a look at our defenses, and begin negotiations for a dismissal.
What Should a First Time Offender Expect?
For a first offender that has never been in trouble before, the worst thing they should do is go to court by themselves and risk an unexpected jail sentence. What they should do instead is have a seasoned, certified criminal law specialist handle everything for them. Not just any lawyer claiming to be a criminal law specialist, but someone who is actually certified by the Florida Bar as a specialist in criminal law. That way, people charged with MIP usually won’t have to return for court at all and the case can be handled without their return to Florida. This takes away a lot of stress and provides a lot of peace of mind.
Usually we then follow a case up with a record expunction and we even do some creative things to remove internet records of the arrest, too. We want the young person to have the best possible start in life when they finish their educational pursuits. The most disastrous thing a person can do is give into that impulse to get it over quickly. As your attorney, I know that I can get an MIP case over quickly as well, but it’s going to have a much better result.
Overall Advice For Spring Break People in Florida
If you are charged with MIP over spring break, call me at (850) 423-0035 as soon as possible or have your family contact me. We can help with bond and once you are out, we can absolutely help with the rest of the case. But step one is good, solid, legal counsel, and then follow the rest of the instructions precisely. After doing this for over 25 years, I’ve figured out the 80/20 rule.
Twenty percent of the effort is going to produce 80 percent of the results and 80 percent of the effort is only going to produce 20 percent of the results. The one percent of the effort that’ll produce 99 percent of the results, is to call a certified specialist if charged with MIP.
Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is a slightly edited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.
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