What Happens If You Are a First Time Criminal Offender in Florida

First Time Offender In Florida

A first-time offender is a person facing a criminal conviction for the first time. Depending on the crime, the courts in Florida can show mercy to a first-time offender. The charges can either be dropped or rehabilitated instead of facing imprisonment. 

This option is not available for all crimes. This privilege is only available for non-violent crimes, where the offender is not a threat to the community. The offenses may include, 

If you are charged with a violent crime or crime involving weapons for the first time, you may not obtain mercy from the court. Severe offenses of first-time offenders include;

  1. Hit and run
  2. Burglary
  3. Robbery
  4. Kidnapping
  5. Murder and manslaughter 
  6. Sex crimes
  7. Aggravated assault
  8. Domestic violence

What happens if it is your first offense in Florida?

  1. Charges Can Be Dropped or Reduced

A criminal defense attorney can use the lack of previous offenses to present your case in court as a first-time offender. The attorney may convince the prosecutor to file a lesser charge or even drop the charges.

  1. Avoiding Conviction

A withhold of adjudication is often available for first-timer offenders in Florida. The state sees rehabilitation as preventing the person from pursuing a criminal career; therefore, the first-time offender that receives withhold of adjudication is not convicted. 

  1. Sealing or Expunging of Record

If you obtain a not convicted adjudication or dismissal as a first-offender in Florida, the court may seal or expunge your record. Sealing or expunging the record is a big advantage because having a criminal record can thwart your future career and educational opportunities. You can get a suitable attorney to help you with expunging your records.

  1. Pretrial Diversion

Pretrial diversion can be offered to a first-time offender by the prosecutors. If it is granted, they may or may not plead guilty. You can be ordered to complete a probation period, be issued a fine, participate in community service and counseling, or anything negotiated by the defense attorney. The charge will be dropped and conviction not entered as long as the negotiated terms are completed. Pretrial is for non-violent offenses only.

What Are My Basic Rights If Pulled Over by a Police Officer in Florida?

What You Need To Know About Being Pulled Over In FL

There should be a valid reason for police to pull you over and detain you. It is important to know your legal rights during a traffic stop since you are likely to be stopped by police once in your lifetime.  Below are a few steps to take when pulled over by police in Florida.

1. Stop your car at a safe location

When a police officer signals to you to pull over, you should find a safe location and come to a complete stop. If there is no safe location close to you, slow down so that the officer will know you are trying to find a place to pull off the road.

Roll down your window, turn off the engine and place your hand on the steering wheel. Keep your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance where you can quickly reach them when the police officer asks for it to afford confusion.

2. Follow police instructions

Do not make any sudden movements; remain calm until the police officer asks you to step out of the vehicle or provide documentation. If they are not close to you, tell the officer where they are and seek permission to pick it.

If you have any weapon in the vehicle, tell the officer where it is. Every other person in the vehicle should follow the same instruction and avoid sudden movements.

3. You have the right to remain silent.

You can invoke your right to remain silent and refuse to answer any question after providing your name and address to the officer, and you should politely tell the officer you have the right to remain silent.

This could escalate the matter, be careful not to answer questions that can incriminate you; politely refuse to answer questions that can incriminate you.

4. You don’t have to consent to a search.

If the officer asks to search your vehicle, you do not need to consent to the search. The officer should not search your vehicle without your consent if he doesn’t have a warrant. Do not resist the search but carefully state that you don’t consent to the search. Resisting can escalate the matter and lead to a criminal charge.

In case you are charged with any traffic-related offense or other offenses, maintain your rights, and don’t forget to contact a suitable attorney to handle your case.