Whether you are a first time or a repeat offender, drug charges are always very serious. However, most states’ laws are lenient on first time offenders, in the hope that they will not reoffend. In this article, you will learn about some programs that keep nonviolent drug offenders out of the judicial system.
Diversion Programs for First Time Offenders
Most US states severely punish drug offenses such as trafficking, use, possession and distribution. However, many jurisdictions have diversion programs for first time offenders, which help these defendants avoid the stigma of a criminal record. Diversion programs also help these people by punishing them enough so that they no longer want to engage in illegal conduct.
Availability of Diversion Programs
Despite their benefits, diversion programs have limited availability. They’re typically filled on a first come, first served basis, or on the recommendation of a prosecutor or judge. Resources are strained in many places, and program spaces aren’t available to every offender. In short, diversion programs are good for those who want to use their offense as a learning experience, and who want to keep a clean criminal record.
People facing first time misdemeanor possession charges can sometimes be placed on probation at the discretion of the court. Most probationary periods last for at least a year; if the program is completed on time and to the court’s satisfaction, the offender’s conviction is expunged permanently. The conditional discharge is a persuasive way to get first time offenders to see the error of their ways.
A pretrial intervention program is intended to rehabilitate the offender, and they are a good alternative to litigation and a lifelong criminal record. Pretrial programs have strict requirements for participation; for instance, an offender must:
- Be charged with an indictable offense
- Be a first time offender
- Have never taken part in a pretrial program
- Have never received a conditional discharge
Drug crimes are very serious, but they do not have to leave you with a criminal record for the rest of your life. If you are a first time offender, consult criminal lawyers in stoughton who can try to get you into a diversion or pretrial program, or get you a conditional discharge.