Regarding Miami-Dade County cases, pretrial diversion (PTD) is available to most first-time offenders for the following offenses: assault, battery (domestic and non-domestic), petit theft, criminal mischief, resisting an officer without violence, carrying a concealed weapon, contracting without a license, stalking, trespass, prostitution, and possession of marijuana. In Broward County, pretrial diversion is available for those charges as well.
In order to qualify for pretrial diversion for a misdemeanor, the accused can have no prior criminal history. Sometimes, a good criminal defense lawyer with excellent negotiation skills can make out a case for a client who has one or two prior arrests. But for the most part, a participant in PTD should have no criminal history.
If the case involves an alleged victim, such as a domestic violence incident; the State cannot offer PTD to the accused without the alleged victim's consent.
PTD will have conditions. The conditions will usually fit the charge. For instance, if the charge is domestic battery, the accused may have to complete anger management. If the charge is possession of marijuana, the accused may have to submit to drug tests. If the charge involves a theft or damage to property, the accused may have to pay restitution.
The cost of PTD is usually about $200.
The benefit to accepting PTD is that if you successfully complete all of the conditions, the State will nolle prosse, or dismiss, all of your charges and you will be able to get your record expunged. Click here to find out if you are eligible to have your record expunged.
Pretrial Intervention, or PTI, is the felony diversion program. This program exists in both Miami-Dade and Broward, however the application process is much easier in Miami-Dade. In Broward, it can be very difficult to get into PTI.
To get into PTI in Miami, an accused person can have no felony priors. If they do, the State must agree to allow the accused to be accepted. Again, this comes down to your attorney's ability to negotiate. Typically, misdemeanor priors will not prevent you from getting into felony PTI.
Most third-degree felonies are acceptable for PTI enrollment. Felonies such as grand theft, grand theft auto, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, burglary of an unoccupied structure, aggravated assault (without a firearm), felony battery, driving while license suspended as a habitual traffic offender (HTO), fleeing and eluding, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, and criminal mischief, are just some of the third-degree felonies that will qualify you for PTI so long as you are not ineligible based on prior offenses.
Like misdemeanor PTD, the State must get approval from the alleged victim on cases that involve damage to someone's property, theft of someone's property, injury, or threat of injury.
Also, conditions of PTI may include classes, community service hours, stay-away orders, and payment of restitution and/or fines.
However, like misdemeanor PTD, if you successfully complete PTI, you may qualify to have your criminal record expunged.
Many offenses do not qualify for PTD or PTI. For PTD, those offense include:
DUI, driving while license suspended (DWLS), leaving the scene of an accident (LSA), no valid driver's license (NVDL), and reckless driving.
For PTI, disqualifying offenses include:
Felony DUI, any possession-level drug charge (possession of cocaine, felony possession of marijuana, possession of alprazolam, possession of oxycodone, etc...).
For first-time offenders with drug possession cases, the diversionary option is Drug Court.
Sale, possession with intent, or trafficking of any substance will make you ineligible for PTI. So will any home burglary.
A program similar to PTI exists in Miami, but it is only for the charge of carrying a concealed firearm. This program is called the Firearm Intervention Program (FIP) and it is run by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. In order to qualify for FIP you must have no prior arrests on your record, even if charges were never filed. Also, your carrying a concealed firearm charge must be the only current charge. You cannot be charge with carrying a concealed firearm in addition to other charges, felony or misdemeanor.
Like PTI and PTD, if you finish FIP successfully, you may have your record expunged.
PTI and PTD are great programs, but many people accept them without first considering the conditions. Community service hours and classes may be time-consuming and difficult to complete. And since these are diversionary programs, it does not mean that your criminal case is closed once you enter the program. The prosecution of your case is merely diverted until you finish. The caveat is that if you fail to complete PTI or PTD, you will be "bounced" from the program. That is, returned to court and your case will remain open. If you get bounced from PTI or PTD, you may not be able to get back in.
As a Miami-Dade prosecutor and now as a criminal defense attorney, I have dealt with PTD and PTI quite possibly thousands of times. I understand what conditions are appropriate, and what conditions are excessive. And as is my policy, I always include the expunging of your record as one of my services should a client and I decide to accept diversion for their case.
But PTD and PTI should not be accepted blindly. I look at every case, no matter how small, to make sure that police procedure was followed, and that my client's civil rights were not violated. That is first and foremost in the practice of criminal defense.
I defend clients in South Florida exclusively. Please call my office to discuss your case, and to find out if you may be eligible for pretrial diversion or pretrial intervention.