The Sunshine State is known for its vacation and entertainment opportunities. While this can be a great advantage to the state economy, a serious disadvantage to visitors and residents alike is the associated increased risk of criminal activity and/or involvement – especially for first-time offenders. Being arrested for the first time due to a misunderstanding, ignorance of the law, or even an outright honest mistake can be a scary, stressful time.
If you've been charged with a Florida misdemeanor or felony for the first time in Duval County, St. Johns County, Nassau County, Clay County or the surrounding areas you shouldn't face the severity of the charge and its consequences alone – whether you're local or just visiting. An experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney can help you explore all the options available to a first-time offender in Florida.Jacksonville First Offender Lawyer
Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer Bill Roelke of Roelke Law is committed to fighting for favorable outcomes for first-time offenders. As a former judicial clerk and research scientist, Roelke believes in the process of burden of proof and knows the ins and outs of what evidence the prosecution will bring against your case. If your rights have been violated or there is scientific error in the chemical testing that is often the center of the prosecution's case – Roelke will find it and fight for dismissal. Contact Roelke Law today at (904) 354-0333 or send an online message to set up a free consultation to go over your charges.
Additionally, sometimes people make honest mistakes or just need help. Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Saint Augustine, Atlantic Beach, Orange Park, or any of the surrounding areas, call experienced Florida first offender attorney Bill Roelke today for a free consultation on your first-time offense. You may have options available to you like withheld adjudication, pretrial intervention or diversion, or special probation terms including a sealed record upon completion.Common First Offenses in Jacksonville
The tourist and entertainment atmosphere of the state generally characterizes the nature of most first offenses in Florida. These offenses are usually nonviolent, minor and can be traced back to poor decisions hastily made in a lively atmosphere. Some of the most common first offenses in Jacksonville or the surrounding areas are:
- Drug possession
- Drug possession with Intent to Sell or Distribute
- Alcohol possession by a minor
- Racing and/or reckless driving
- Reckless conduct or simple assault/battery
Florida law takes all of these offenses very seriously – however, usually the defendant poses no repeat-offender threat when it is his or her first time to be charged. If you have been charged with one of these offenses or another misdemeanor or felony, time is of the essence. Contacting an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible could increase your chances for a favorable outcome.Options for First-Time Offenders in Duval County
Depending on the case, there are various options available to a first-time offender, including:
- Intervention with prosecution before formal charges are filed – The goal here is to emphasize your clean record and any supporting evidence that this type of offense will never happen again. Your defense attorney can also go over the facts of the case and point out flaws or inadequacies. This can result in charges being reduced or completely dismissed.
- Pretrial Intervention or Pretrial Diversion – These are programs run by the local state attorney's office and can usually be offered to first-offenders with misdemeanor or simple non-violent third-degree felony charges. Once the defendant has completed the terms of the program – such as payment restitution, enrollment in a counseling program, and community service – the state will dismiss the charges.
- Drug Court – Defendants are usually eligible for the Adult Drug Court program if it can be proven that their drug-related or non drug-related offense was motivated by addiction and the person could benefit from the help. Entering drug court usually requires participation in a pretrial intervention program or probation and a clinical assessment. If this program is successfully completed, the defendant will be eligible for dismissal of charges or avoiding a felony conviction.
- Plea bargaining – An experienced criminal defense attorney can usually emphasize your lack of criminal history to negotiate specific recovery programs, special probation terms, or even a withholding of adjudication in exchange for a guilty or nolo contendre plea.
Though as a first-time offender you may have your charges reduced, dismissed, or withdrawn, your record will still indicate a criminal arrest. The process to have your arrest record sealed or expunged is separate from the criminal proceedings according to state code.Sealing or Expungement of Criminal Records in Florida
After your St. John's County criminal charge is reduced, withdrawn, or dismissed, you still have to navigate the process of record sealing and expungement in order to protect your future. Sealing your record means that only individuals or agencies with a court order will have access to the information.
The expungement of your criminal record means only one official copy of your record is kept by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (accessible only by court order) and the rest are destroyed.
Expungement also means that your criminal charges will not show up on any background checks, as no person with access is allowed to affirm or deny the record's existence. If you are concerned about your future after a Florida felony or misdemeanor arrest, contact an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer today to help you with the record sealing or expungement process.Roelke Law, P.A. | Duval County First-Time Offender Lawyer
Florida law can be harsh on violators of certain offenses, even if it is your first-time. If you've been charged with a criminal offense in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Saint Augustine, Atlantic Beach, Orange Park, or any of the surrounding areas, don't risk your future. Contact experienced Florida criminal defense attorney Bill Roelke at 904-354-0333. He will fight to show that your clean record deserves to stay clean. Call today, the first consultation is always free.