My criminal defense practice is equally split between cases in Miami-Dade County and Broward County.
However, there are some differences between the two counties when it comes to getting PTI (Pretrial Intervention) for my clients in felony cases.
In all honesty, the "PTI process" is far easier in Miami-Dade County than in Broward County. For one, PTI is administered by a private company in Miami-Dade, The Advocate Program. Since it's a private company, there is a profit incentive, so the process of getting in and getting through the conditions is quite easier than it is in Broward.
In Broward, PTI is administered through the Broward Sheriff's Office. Naturally, it is going to be more difficult to get in when the government sets the standards and not a private company.
In Miami-Dade, an accused person can accept a PTI referral in court. The accused person then takes the PTI referral form to The Advocate office and is screened by the program for final approval. Provided the accused has no prior felonies that would disqualify him or her, he or she is admitted.
Victim approval is required in Miami-Dade, as it is in Broward.
In Broward, an accused person must apply for PTI within 30 days of arraignment. The Broward Sheriff's Office will have the accused person complete a lengthy application, which will serve as the basis for a thorough background check. ANY prior arrests (even if charges are dropped or never filed) will disqualify you from the program.
Broward also requires a full statement of the facts of the case from the accused before the accused is admitted into PTI. This means that if you fail to complete the conditions of PTI, you will have already given a full confession to the State Attorney's Office that can be used against you.
Once in the program, you must complete the conditions set forth by the Broward Sheriff's Office. Unlike Miami-Dade, you cannot re-enroll if you are kicked out.
The program takes 6 months to a year to finish. If you complete the program successfully, your case will be dismissed and you will be able to expunge your record.
I do not like the hoops a first-time offender must jump through in order to get into PTI in Broward, but it is what it is. And it's a good program, especially if it means that you can one day get a felony arrest off of your record.
Again, these are just some of the felonies that can qualify an otherwise acceptable applicant for PTI. This is not an inclusive list because the State Attorney's Office and the Broward Sheriff's Office decide who qualifies.
If you have been arrested in Broward County, Florida, and are a first-time offender, you may want to consider PTI.
Contact me, a South Florida criminal defense attorney, to discuss whether you are eligible for this program.