Being a first time offender gives you a chance to avoid jail time, or have charges dismissed completely. This can be for crimes such as possession of marijuana or minor burglaries. It can also include misdemeanors and petty theft charges.
A criminal law attorney can help you with this process by providing the State with information that could convince them not to file a formal charge or decline prosecution altogether. This is known as pre-filing intervention.
Alternative sentencing programs
Defendants who are arrested for first-time crimes may be eligible for alternative criminal penalties. Typically, they will be required to participate in a specific program that helps them address the root cause of their criminal behavior and make changes in their lives. These programs are designed to benefit the individual and their community, and they often save taxpayer money. For example, it is estimated that it costs 7 times more to incarcerate a drug offender than to put them through a drug treatment program.
These programs are often available for a wide range of offenses, including drug possession and domestic violence. They can be as simple as attending classes on domestic violence or substance abuse treatment. Depending on the type of offense, some programs require that defendants serve a short jail sentence in order to incentivize compliance or punish noncompliance. These alternative penalties can be used as a replacement for incarceration and are more likely to prevent recidivism than standard criminal punishments.
A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and the prosecutor to avoid a trial. It usually involves a lesser sentence or the dropping of certain charges in exchange for a guilty plea. It can also include other conditions, such as drug testing or community service. If a defendant violates the terms of their plea bargain, the judge may revoke it and send them to trial.
Plea bargaining is an integral part of criminal justice. Despite their critics, it’s an essential tool for prosecutors to dispose of cases and avoid lengthy trials. However, it can be difficult to navigate without a lawyer. A New Jersey criminal defense lawyer can help you determine if a plea deal is right for you.
There are a number of diversion programs available to first time offenders. One of these is called a conditional discharge, which allows the court to delay regular proceedings and place you on probation without a finding of guilt. If you successfully complete the terms of your probation, the charges will be dismissed and you can apply to have the offence expunged from your record.
If you violate any of the conditions of your probation, the judge can revoke your discharge and you will be found guilty of the original offence. This could impact your career in the future.
A conditional discharge can be used for drug crimes and non-violent property crimes that are related to the accused’s addiction to drugs or alcohol. However, you can only use this diversion program once in your life and it can only be applied to misdemeanors or low-level felonies. After three years of keeping your records clean, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police can seal them.
Drug court is a program designed to help defendants overcome their substance abuse problems and return to society as productive members of the community. It combines treatment, sanctions and incentives with regular status hearings in which a judge assesses progress. Drug courts are a cost-effective alternative to traditional felony trials and are more effective than incarceration at rehabilitating offenders.
However, the program is not available for everyone. Defendants who are charged with distribution, sales or manufacturing narcotics offenses are not eligible for drug court. Additionally, prosecutors must agree that the defendant is willing to participate in the program. An experienced defense attorney may be able to convince the State Attorney’s office that your situation and motivation make you an exception.
Successful completion of the drug court program allows qualified participants to have their criminal charges dismissed without a conviction. They are also able to file to expunge their arrest records, which is an important benefit for future employment and career opportunities.