Although similar to probation, all diversion programs are voluntary. If you complete the special conditions, then after 12 months, the charges against you will be dismissed by the prosecution. Depending on the particular facts of your case and your individual circumstances, entering a felony pre-trial diversion program might not be in your best interest.
Your criminal defense attorney will help you decide early in the case whether PTI is right for you or not. The first step is to investigate the allegations and talk with witnesses in the case.
If you are innocent of the charges or if the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to prove the charges at trial, then the best result in your case is getting the charges dropped outright. Although you are not usually required to enter a plea to be accepted into the program, you are usually required to sign and notarize a statement admitting to each element of the offense which can later be used against you at trial for impeachment purposes if you do not complete the program.
The State Attorney’s Office often takes the position that the taking of deposition or hearing substantive motions will disqualify a defendant from being considered for PTI. Your prior criminal record might also make you ineligible for diversion if you have more than one prior conviction for a non-violent misdemeanor. Applicants with a prior felony arrest will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
For all of these reasons, many of our clients decide to fight the case on the merits instead of entering the felony PTI program offered by the State Attorney's Office in Broward County, FL.
An experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, FL, can help you make the best decision. Even after the program is completed and the charges are dropped, the impact of the arrest and resolution of the case can follow you for a life-time. In order to obtain or maintain a license to practice your chosen profession, you might have to disclose details about the case. If you are not eligible to expunge the record, then the impact is even greater.
Call an attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, FL, before you make a decision. Call us for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case. Call (954) 716-8538 today.
Depending on the facts of the case, the special terms of the PTI program might include one or more of the following:
If you violate any of these special conditions, then you will be rejected from PTI and your case will be scheduled in court. The prosecutor will then attempt to use your signed admission against you at trial.
If you decide that entering the PTI program is in your best interest, then you must apply within forty-five (45) days of arraignment. To apply for the program, you must submit the following documents:
If you agree to PTI, then these documents must be delivered to the following address:Felony Pre-Trial Intervention Program
After the documents are received, a PTI officer will review the application to determine if you qualify for the program. The entire process to review the application and determine eligibility can take up to 90 days from the date the application is received at the PTI office.
If you apply for PTI after forty-five (45) days from your arraignment, then you must seek a waiver letter from the State Attorney’s Office. The State Attorney’s Office requires you to send a letter requesting the waiver after showing good cause for the delay.
The most problematic part of entering diversion is that the application must contain a notarized typed sworn statement detailing the facts and circumstances of the offense for which you were arrested or charged. According to the State Attorney’s Office, “[i]f the sworn statement so provided does not contain facts indicative of knowledge or conduct on the part of the applicant consistent with guilt of all of the elements of the offense (including value of the items stolen if applicable), factually or legally, in the opinion of the State Attorney’s Office, this office will not consent to the applicant’s entry into the program.”
If you cannot admit to the elements of the offense, then your criminal defense attorney can contact the State Attorney’s Office about your claim of innocence. If you believe you are innocent of the charge, then it is almost NEVER in your best interest to enter the PTI program. Instead, you would be better off fighting the charges in court.
If accepting in the program and live in the state of Florida, you will not be required to enter a plea of guilty or no contest to the charges. Instead, you will be supervised by a PTI officer with the Florida Department of Corrections.
Things become more complicated if you reside in Florida but outside of Broward County. To be considered a resident of Broward County, at the time of the application, you must be a bona fide resident of Broward County, Florida for no less than six (6) months if living with parent(s), spouse or legal guardian(s) at the time of the application.
Otherwise, you must be a bona fide resident for twelve (12) months at the time of the application.
This residency requirement might be waived if you are a similarly qualified bona fide resident of another jurisdiction having a P.T.I. Program or a similar diversionary program acceptable to the Department of Corrections, Pre-Trial Intervention Program, Broward County, Florida, and this other program is willing to supervise the Applicant should he/she be accepted into the Program.
Agreeing to enter the PTI program is always a more difficult decision if you plan to live out of the state of Florida during the period of supervision. If you live outside the state of Florida during the period of supervision, you must plead guilty to the charges and have your sentencing deferred for a period of one year.
During the period of supervision, you are subjected to the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision. You must also waive your right to a trial if you fail to successfully complete the program. If you successfully complete the program, as determined by the State Attorney’s Office, then the prosecutor will agree that you can withdraw your previously entered plea of guilty and the case will be dismissed.
If you do not successfully complete the program, then you will not be allowed to withdraw your plea of guilty and you will be sentenced by the court.
Some third-degree felony offenses are eligible for diversion, but not all such offenses are eligible for PTI. It is important to keep in mind that no second or first-degree felony offense will qualify. Likewise, no violent crime or crime involving a firearm will qualify. Also, you will not qualify if the amount of restitution owed at the time you make application is more than $5,000.
The State Attorney’s Office does not generally allow defendants charged with non-qualifying offenses into the PTI Program, although in some unusual cases they will agree to reduced or amend the charges so that you will qualify. Some types of offenses, such as offenses against government entities, will be reviewed on a case by case basis and acceptance will be solely at the discretion of the State Attorney's Office.
The types of felony offenses are not eligible for PTI in Broward County, FL, including the following: DWLS; DUI; Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Hit and Run); Fleeing with Intent to Eluding; Attempted Residential Burglary; Robbery; Aggravated Assault; Possession of anti-shoplifting control device; Crimes indicative of an organized scheme to defraud; Offenses involving vending, forging or counterfeiting private labels; Possession of heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, or one-half gram or more of cocaine.
Some types of drug offenses are qualified for PTI. As discussed above, you will not generally qualify if you are charged with possession of heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, or one-half gram or more of cocaine. If the facts of the case indicate that the person accused of the drug offense is a drug dealer or involved in dealing drugs, then the defendant will not generally qualify for diversion.
Some individuals who are not qualified for diversion will still qualify for drug court. Additionally, if you are charged with a drug offense and subsequently terminated from the felony PTI program, then you will be automatically referred to Drug Court.
If you agree to enter a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) in Drug Court, then you will not be eligible for the felony PTI program.
Conditions of PTI for drug offenses include being subjected to random drug testing. Even a single positive drug test will cause you to be dismissed from the program.
Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) Program in Broward County - Visit the website of the Office of the State Attorney, Michael J. Satz, State Attorney of the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County, FL. Learn more about the pre-trial intervention program (often called “PTI”) by reading information written by the State Attorney’s Office. This information was last updated on May 26, 2016. The PTI program is operated by the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC). The goal of the felony PTI program in Broward County is to give first-time felony offenders with a chance to avoid a criminal conviction by having their case diverted away from the trial court. Only defendants charged with a qualifying third-degree felony are eligible to participate in this diversion program.
State Attorney Pre-Trial Intervention Guidelines - Read the guidelines to learn more about the conditions under which this sworn statement may be used against a defendant. Last revised on May 26, 2016, the guidelines explain the procedures, policy, and minimum eligibility requirements for obtaining State Attorney Office approval for the entry of an applicant into the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention Program in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.
This article was last updated on Friday, October 31, 2016.
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