Being arrested and charged with a crime is one of the most stressful experiences someone can go through — particularly if you have never been in any trouble with the law. If you are a first-time offender and have recently been arrested, it is quite understandable if you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious right now.
The good news is that if you and your attorney take the right steps, the state may afford you a degree of leniency because of your clean record. In many cases, we can get the state to drop or reduce charges for first-time offenders. But it is critical to act fast so that we can negotiate with the prosecutor as soon as possible. Contact Goldman Wetzel at 727-828-3900.
What is a first-time offender?
A first-time offender is one who has never been convicted of a crime. Traffic offenses typically do not count.
Non-violent crimes, such as those that do not involve weapons or physical harm to others, may qualify for opportunities afforded to first-time offenders. Examples include offenses such as white-collar crimes, theft, prostitution, and drug-related crimes.
When the crime is violent in nature, such as homicide, kidnapping, domestic violence, and burglary, first-time offenders may not receive the court’s mercy. However, the attorneys at Goldman Wetzel will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome and if our client completes a diversion program or if we get the case dropped, we can seal or expunge violent arrests such as battery and domestic battery.
How might being a first-time offender affect my case?
The gist behind the first-time offender concept is that these persons are not in the habit of committing crimes and are excellent candidates for rehabilitation. Usually arrested for relatively minor offenses like shoplifting or trespassing, first-time offenders are completely aware that their actions were wrong and they are typically fairly remorseful and ashamed.
Fortunately, the justice system focuses more on ensuring that your one-time act of indiscretion does not become a lifestyle of crime rather than on punishing you to the maximum limit of the law. When your lawyer talks to the prosecutor and/or the court, she can play your “first-time offender card” to your advantage and push for lesser or dropped charges.
What advantages and opportunities do first-time offenders have?
If you have never had a run-in with the law before, the prosecutor and court might exercise a degree of leniency with you. There are several advantages this can have:
Dropping or Reducing Your Charges
If your Goldman Wetzel attorney is able to talk to the prosecutor before he officially files the charges against you, she can use your clean record to present your case in the best light. With this type of pre-filing early intervention, your lawyer may be able to sway the prosecutor to file lesser charges or perhaps even drop the case altogether.
With certain types of offenses, you may be able to avoid conviction and receive a withhold of adjudication by completing a diversion or first offender program, drug court, or other terms. Your lawyer will be able to tell you if you qualify.
Sealing or Expunging Your Record
First-time offenders with a withhold of adjudication or obtain a formal dismissal may be able to have the court seal or expunge their records.
Sealing/expungement can be extremely advantageous. Having a mar on your criminal record could thwart future employment and school opportunities. But Goldman Wetzel can help you try to obtain a good outcome for your case so that you can preserve the right to have the court seal or completely expunge your records later.
What are the advantages of hiring a defense attorney?
Defendants represented by private counsel usually have much better outcomes than those that represent themselves. We can fight to have the state drop your charges as well as explain any other options you may have.
Our attorneys at Goldman Wetzel have had excellent success with our first-time offender clients. Check out some of our client testimonials and reviews. We would like chance to do the same for you.
Contact our office in St. Petersburg today at 727-828-3900.