First Time Offenders in Orlando, Florida
If you have been charged with your first criminal offense, it can be very frightening, and you may not know where to go, or to whom you should turn. You may be questioning if you will have a criminal record, or how you will be punished. If you hire an attorney, they may be able to help you have your first criminal offense dismissed or the charges reduced. If you are able to have your charges dismissed or reduced, then you may not have a criminal record at all, or it will be easier to have your criminal record sealed or expunged later. Also, you may have to serve little or no jail or prison time and pay minimal fines. Common first time offenses include:
- Drug Possession
- Marijuana Charges
- Petty Theft
- Solicitation of Prostitution
- Traffic Violations
- Domestic Battery
- Juvenile Charges
- Reckless Driving
- Tourist Offenses
First Time Arrest Lawyer in Orlando, FL
The attorneys at Hale, Hale & Jacobson can help you avoid harsh punishments and severe repercussions for your first criminal offense in Orlando, Florida. Maria D. Hale and Richard O. Hale are experienced and knowledgeable in Florida’s criminal laws, and will make every effort to find the best possible outcome for your situation. Call the law offices of Hale, Hale & Jacobson at (407) 425-4640 for a consultation today.
Orlando First Time Offender Information Center
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Punishments for First Time Arrests Orlando, Florida
The potential punishments you will face for a first time offense depend on the type of crime you are convicted of, and the degree of severity of the offense. For example, a first time assault with a deadly weapon will have more severe consequences than a first time retail theft. The following describes typical sentences in Florida:
- Misdemeanor of the Second Degree - Jail time up to 60 days, and/or a fine up to $500;
- Misdemeanor of the First Degree – Jail time up to one year, and/or a fine not more than $1,000;
- Felony of the Third Degree – Prison sentence no more than five years, and/or fines up to $5,000;
- Felony of the Second Degree – Imprisonment up to 15 years, and/or fines no more than $10,000;
- Felony of the First Degree – Prison time of no more than 30 years, and/or fines up to $10,000;
- Life Felony – Prison sentence from 30 years to no more than life imprisonment, and/or fines up to $15,000; and
- Capital Felony – Death sentence or life imprisonment.
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Options to Avoid a Criminal Record
If you have been arrested for a first time offense, there are options to avoid a criminal record, jail time, fines, and many other types of punishments. The following list explains some of these options, and the offenses that qualify:
Plea Bargaining – As a first time offender, it is typically easier for your attorney to negotiate a deal with the state prosecutor. For example, your attorney can enter a plea bargain to withhold an adjudication of guilt, which means you are not actually convicted or found guilty of the offense you committed. If you are convicted of a felony, many of your civil liberties will be inhibited, including being able to own or possess a firearm. A withhold of adjudication will also make sealing or expunging your criminal record in the future easier.
Drug Court – Drug court is a voluntary program available for first time drug offenders that involves regular court appearances before a drug court judge. The program provides for substance abuse treatment, counseling and monitoring to prevent repeat offenders. Those eligible for the drug court are offenders who have been charged with misdemeanor or third degree felony possession charges excluding trafficking amounts, small drug sales, drug purchases, and other felonies that are drug-based. Typically upon successful completion of drug court, criminal charges will be dismissed.
Federal First Time Offender Act – For those who are charged with a federal first time drug offense under the federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 807 et seq.), they may be eligible for probation for up to one year without an adjudication of guilt, and upon successful completion of probation their charges may be dismissed. Those eligible under the federal act have not previously been convicted of a federal drug charge and have not previously had a charge dismissed under the Federal First Time Offender Act.
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Pre-Trial Intervention Programs in Florida
Pretrial intervention programs are designed for first time offenders who have typically committed a non-violent crime in order to avoid a permanent criminal record or jail or prison time.
These programs are intended to reduce the number of repeat offenders, and involve education, counseling, and psychological or substance abuse treatment. Requirements an offender has to fulfill in order to complete the program usually include a combination of community service, payment of fines or restitution, drug testing, and/or counseling.
According to Florida Statute § 948.08, the eligible offenders for these programs are any first-time offenders who have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony of the third degree, or any person who has not been convicted of more than one nonviolent misdemeanor.
The offender has to voluntarily agree to attend the program and waive any rights to a speedy trial. Additionally, the prosecutor, judge at the offender’s initial appearance, and victim all have to consent the offender’s entrance into the intervention program.
The program diverts a criminal trial, before or after an indictment has been returned to the court or after an information has been filed, against the alleged offender as long as they meet all requirements of the program. If the offender is not meeting the program’s requirements, then the offender’s criminal proceedings will resume.
At the end of the intervention program period, the state prosecutor will recommend either the criminal proceedings to resume if the offender has not fulfilled his requirements, the offender needs further supervision, or for all criminal charges to be dismissed.
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Resources in Orlando
Florida Statutes Online – This website contains all of the laws and statutes governing criminal offenses in the state of Florida, including specific offenses and punishments.
Orange County Clerk of Courts – The county clerk of Orange County has information about misdemeanor and felony arrests in Orlando, information about your case in Orange County, forms for the county and filing fee information. The clerk’s office is located at:
Orange County Clerk of Courts
425 N. Orange Avenue, Suite 410
Orlando, Florida 32801
Phone: (407) 836-2000
City of Orlando Police Department – This Florida law enforcement agency help keeps Orlando safe by reducing crime and keeping the neighborhoods livable. The office is located at:
Orlando Police Department
100 South Hughey Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
Phone: (407) 246-2470
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Hale, Hale & Jacobson | Orlando First Time Arrest Criminal Defense Attorney
Contact the law offices of Hale, Hale & Jacobson today for a consultation about your first criminal arrest in Orlando, Florida. It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you find possible defenses or mitigating factors, or other ways to avoid a permanent criminal record. Contact Hale, Hale & Jacobson at (407) 425-4640 for a consultation about your first criminal offense in Orange County and surrounding areas, including Seminole County, Osceola County, Orlando, Winter Park and Kissimmee.
Contributor: Richard Hale