How do first-offender programs work?

Did you know the law treats first-time offenders differently?

Being charged with a crime is a life-changing experience, particularly for those who have never committed an offense before. 

And while they don’t apply in all cases, first-offender programs can help mitigate the legal response — including keeping the records of eligible offenders clean. 

Here’s what to know about the law and first-time offenders.

What does it mean to be a first-time offender?

A first-time offender is someone who is facing criminal prosecution for the first time. The specifics of what constitutes a first offense depends on the jurisdiction. For example, some states do not consider juvenile crimes in their distinction.

What are first-offender programs?

First-offender programs are designed to keep defendants out of prison and keep their conviction off of their criminal record. While they vary by state, these programs generally allow for a probationary period, after which — if all goes well — the charge is dismissed.

Also notable is the Federal First Offender Act, a diversion program for those being charged with possession of a controlled substance for the first time. Like the state programs, this includes a probationary period (up to one year), followed by a possible dismissal of the charge.

What should you do if you’re charged with a first-time offense?

The most important thing to do upon being charged with an offense for the first time is to consult a lawyer. They’ll be able to educate you on the first-offender program(s) you may be eligible for. Contact us today at (330) 394-1587

The rules for first-offender programs depend on the court (state or federal) and the crime. Anyone facing a first-time criminal offense should find a lawyer immediately.

As always, Makridis Law Firm is here to help. For legal assistance call today (330) 394-1587

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