You were arrested or given a Notice To Appear. It was a petit theft, grand theft, possession of drugs, or some other non-violent offense. You’ve never been arrested before, or if you have, you have a very minor prior record. You’re scared. You don’t know what to expect. Will you go to jail? Will you lose your job? Will this haunt you forever?
In many cases, you may be eligible for pretrial diversion or pretrial intervention. In Duval County, it is commonly referred to as PTI (Pretrial Intervention). For many non-violent, less serious offenses, the prosecutor has the discretion to divert your case from the court system. I often like to refer to it as a kind of front-loaded probation. If you complete certain conditions, the State agrees to drop the charges against you and you may be eligible to have your record sealed or expunged.
How can I get PTI?
Unfortunately, nobody is entitled to PTI. It is completely within the discretion of the State Attorney’s Office. However, your criminal defense attorney can request Pretrial Intervention (PTI) and can provide mitigation to the prosecutor in an effort to convince the prosecutor that you deserve diversion. Typically, a prosecutor may not consider a pretrial intervention program if not asked. So it is extremely important to have your criminal defense attorney specifically request pretrial diversion. If the prosecutor agrees, he or she will divert it from the court system until you successfully complete the program.
What will I have to do while on PTI?
Felony PTI is supervised by the Florida Department of Corrections and is very much like probation. You typically have to check in with a probation officer, complete community service hours, pay fines and costs, go to classes, undergo random urinalysis, look for and/or maintain employment and other provisions. Felony PTI usually takes 6-12 months to complete. Misdemeanor PTI is supervised by the State Attorney’s Office and there are typically much fewer conditions and it takes a much shorter period of time to complete. It is also much cheaper than felony PTI.
What happens if I violate a condition of PTI?
If you violate a condition of the pretrial intervention program, you may be rejected out of the program and your case will be sent back to the prosecutor. That prosecutor will then make a decision on whether to file formal charges against you and what formal charges are to be filed. Your case would then proceed as if you had never been offered PTI in the first place.
What are the benefits of PTI?
Pretrial Intervention is a great way to protect your record and to ensure that you stay out of jail or prison. If you are offered and agree to a PTI program and you complete it successfully, the charges are dropped. In Duval county, you do not have to sign any document admitting guilt. If you have never been adjudicated guilty of any offense before, you may be eligible to get the charge expunged from your record. PTI takes all of the risk out of a criminal charge. Of course, there may be viable reasons to refuse an offer of PTI, but those situations are few and far between.
Jeremy Lasnetski, managing partner at Lasnetski Gihon Law is a Florida Bar Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer and has been practicing criminal law in Jacksonville for over 16 years. Mr. Lasnetski received his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of Florida in 1997 and went on to obtain a law degree and an M.B.A. from the University of Florida in 2001.
After graduation, Mr. Lasnetski accepted a position as a prosecutor at the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville. During the next 6 1/2 years as a prosecutor, Mr. Lasnetski tried more than 50 criminal trials, including more than 40 felony trials. He was promoted in 2007 to Division Chief of the Repeat Offender Unit. Mr. Lasnetski was also a full time member of the Homicide Prosecution Team. In 2008, Mr. Lasnetski formed the Law Office of Lasnetski Gihon Law and began defending citizens in criminal court. He represents clients in both State and Federal criminal courts.