Florida First-Time Offenders

Being charged with a crime for the first time can be scary, stressful, and overwhelming. Many times, first-time offenders have no idea what to expect and have had little to no interaction with the criminal justice system at all.

Generally, first-time offenders are college students who after committing minor crimes, are worried about their future academic status, or young professionals, who worry about their reputations and careers.

Having first-time offender status could work in one's favor, however. The lack of a criminal record makes it more likely, depending on the crime, that an accused could enter an alternative program, or have his or her charges completely dropped.

Attorney for First-Time Offenders in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Our attorneys have represented first-time offenders with no prior record in Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, Hendry County, Collier County, and Broward County, Florida. Being arrested for the first time can be a life-changing experience, but the consequences do not have to last a lifetime, speak with an attorney who can help.

The lawyers at Bacchus Law Firm have extensive experience defending individuals accused of crimes for the first time throughout South Florida, and at the Federal level in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Our attorneys take cases throughout the Miami-metropolitan area in cities like West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, LaBelle, Miami, and East Naples, Florida.

Our office is centrally located at 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, just minutes from the Broward County Central Courthouse.

Call (954) 500-5555 for more information about how our office can help.

Overview of Florida First-Time Offenders in Broward County

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Common First-Time Offender Crimes

First-time offenders are not usually hardcore criminals. Their run-ins with the law most likely arose from a single bad decision with even worse timing.

Most crimes committed by first-time offenders are misdemeanors. Some of the most common first-time offender crimes in Florida include the following:

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Drug Crimes and First-Time Offenders

One of the most common crimes committed by first-time offenders usually involves some drug or alcohol use. On college campuses or during Spring Break in Miami, the party can get out of hand. Minors consuming alcohol can subject both the minor and the property owner to criminal charges.

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Florida Marijuana Crimes and First-time Offenders

Having a small amount of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor. Any amount of resin or extract, however, comes with harsher penalties. As marijuana use becomes more acceptable for medical and recreational use, it is imperative that individuals remember that unauthorized marijuana use is still a crime under Florida law.

Misdemeanor Marijuana offenses under Florida law include the following:

  • Possession of Marijuana/Cannabis – possession of less than twenty (20) grams of marijuana is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to twelve months in jail and $1,000 fines.
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – paraphernalia includes marijuana pipes, blunts, bongs, etc…, and it is charged as first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to twelve months in jail and $1,000 fines.

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DUI and First-Time Offenders

Driving under the influence is a crime that is also common among first-time offenders –especially professionals. Many professional associations and meetings serve alcohol and often one drink can result in blowing a .08 (the legal limit in Florida) in a breathalyzer.

Under Florida Statute § 316.193, there are a number of mandatory punishments that a court could impose for being charged with a DUI for the first time. Those penalties may include the following:

  • Fines
  • Community Service
  • Probation
  • Jail Time
  • Vehicle Immobilization or Impounding

Unless you avoid conviction, DUI punishments are very harsh in Florida.

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Pre-trial Intervention Programs and Plea Bargaining

What is the Felony Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) in Broward County, FL? The PTI program is promulgated by the State of Florida's Department of Corrections. Under Florida Statute § 948.08, "any first offender, or any person previously convicted of not more than one nonviolent misdemeanor, who is charged with any misdemeanor or felony of the third degree is eligible for release to a PTI program…."

Under the PTI program, an individual can enroll and will be required to complete program conditions such as community service, drug testing, restitution payments, etc… Some benefits of completing a PIT program include the following:

  • Avoid potential criminal conviction;
  • Avoid the costs of criminal trial;
  • Eligible for sealing or expunging criminal record;
  • Receive counseling or psychological treatment.

Moreover, having no criminal record is a huge advantage in plea negotiations. A skilled litigator may be able to negotiate community service or restitution in lieu of criminal charges, have the charges reduced, or have adjudication withheld.

Additional Resources

Broward County Diversion Programs – Visit the website of the Broward County State Attorney's Office for more information on the various diversion programs throughout Broward County. The website includes information on Broward County's programs like the Truancy Diversion Program, the Misdemeanor Diversion Program, and the Pre-trial Intervention Program.  

Broward County Pre-Trial Division – Visit the website of the Broward County Sheriff for more information on the pre-trial services division. The program is designed to divert criminal defendants from pretrial incarceration. It also provides information to the judges of the 17th Judicial Circuit to improve the release and detention process.

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Find a Lawyer for First-Time Offenders in Broward County, FL

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in Florida for the very first time, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Bacchus Law Firm.

As a former Assistant State Attorney, our criminal defense lawyer has extensive experience in the pre-trial and trial process from both sides of the legal battle. These types of advantages are rare. It would be in your best interest to speak with an attorney who knows how the other side thinks and who is dedicated to fighting for the rights of those charged with crimes.

Being charged with a crime for the first time can be scary, but with an experienced attorney on your side, you can lessen that stress.

Contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Bacchus Law Firm. We take cases throughout the Miami-metropolitan area in Broward County, Florida, and in the surrounding counties of Palm Beach, Collier, Hendry, and Miami-Dade County.

Call (954) 500-5555 to schedule a one-on-one consultation with one of our attorneys.

This article was last updated on Friday, November 10, 2017.

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