The Defendant was arrested at a retail store on a charge of Petit Theft. The Defendant had no prior criminal history and the Court placed her into a Diversion Program to avoid prosecution. Only 3 days after bonding out of jail, the Defendant was arrested again on another Petit Theft charge at another retail store. This second arrested violated the terms of the bond and the Judge had the Defendant brought back to the Polk County Jail to await trial on the 2 separate theft charges.
Diversion Programs for Petit Theft
Diversion programs are offered in Florida to avoid prosecution. The program is run by the Florida Department of Corrections. Benefits of attending a diversion program include avoiding the cost of a criminal trial, avoiding a criminal conviction, receiving the treatment that is needed, avoiding a potential criminal record, and having the criminal record of arrest be expunged.
In order to be eligible for the diversion program, all of the following criteria must be met:
- Defendant must be a first time offender or have not been convicted of no more than one non-violent misdemeanor
- Defendant agrees to attend all classes and vocational training, and participate in group or individual therapy
- The Defendant agrees to pay all fines and restitution, including a $50 cost of prosecution fee
- The Defendant agrees to maintain regular contact with a criminal justice officer
- The Defendant agrees to pay required program fees ($360 for 6 months or less, $560 for 9 months, and $720 for a year)
- The Defendant accepts evaluation and recommended treatment, all paid for by the Defendant
- The Defendant completes a minimum of 32 hours of community service with insurance fee paid for by the Defendant
- The Defendant cooperates with random drug and alcohol testing at the Defendant’s expense
It is best to hire an attorney to assist you in getting enrolled in a Diversion program. An attorney will be able to review your record to determine if you are eligible for the program. If you are, the attorney can negotiate with the court to allow your entry into the program. An application form will need to be filled out, which your attorney will likely do for you. You will just need to add your signature.
Violating a Diversion Program
If a person violates the diversion program, they can be removed from the program. Should this happen, prosecution will be re-initiated, and the case will be turned over to the courts. A sentence can be imposed if a guilty or a no-contest plea is given when the crime first happened, since the judge has the right to impose a sentence. If no plea was previously entered, the Defendant will need to enter one, and then the case will proceed.
RESULT: The Defendant retained Musca Law Firm to defend the charges against her. The Defense filed a Motion to Set Bond to release the Client from jail and await trial under the supervision of her parents. The Defense worked out a deal with the Prosecution and the Client received NO FORMAL FINDING OF GUILT on both charges of Petit Theft.