How Often Can You Get Drug Charges Dropped, Dismissed Or Reduced?
Attorney T. Charles Shafer has been very successful in having initial charges reduced or dismissed. However, the longer a client waits to hire Mr. Shafer, the more they run the risk of having the State Attorney formally look into the case and bring formal charges. Once it is officially charged, it becomes much more difficult for a dismissal or reduction. That is why it is always a good idea to have an attorney involved as soon as possible after an arrest occurs. This holds true for any offense.
There have seen several cases where the State would have pursued a different direction, but once Attorney Shafer’s firm was retained, they were able to use investigators to gather evidence that the State did not possess, present it to the state attorney and seen the State issue a “No Information” dismissing the criminal action.
In Florida, the State is not required to hold court proceedings to decide what charge or charges should be brought. Grand juries, a group of citizens empanelled to hear evidence and determine charges against a defendant are usually reserved for very serious or highly publicized offenses.
Generally, in Florida an assistant state attorney has witnesses come to their office and speak to them. These meetings are known as state attorney “hearings.” However, it involves no court proceeding. Formal charges can be entered by the filing of the formal charging document, known as an “information,” can be done from the comfort of the State Attorney’s Office.
Usually there is lag time between the arrest and the state attorney hearing. This time can be very crucial. Information unknown to the State about the offense or witnesses information of the offense can be investigated and, if favorable, presented to the State Attorney by the defense lawyer.
The State Attorney would then be shown another facet of the case law enforcement had failed to mention, whatever reason. Presenting such information to a State Attorney early could result in a case being treated differently. Mr. Shafer has seen such information presented to the State lead to a reduction of charges from a mandatory prison sentence to misdemeanor court. He also has been successful on a number of occasions of having charges dismissed. At worst, such information can be utilized to negotiate better terms for a plea agreement, if the State does go forward on charges
Recently, attorney Shafer handled a case involving a gentleman who had been charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. At that time, this crime carried a three year mandatory prison sentence. Attorney Shafer, with the assistance of investigator Brad Perron of Investigative Support Specialist, Inc., of Stuart, Florida, was able to obtain videos showing that the crime charged was not what actually had occurred. The videos showed the firearm in the client’s possession had not been pointed at anyone. The videos were forwarded to the State Attorney. Ultimately, the felony charge was dismissed and a misdemeanor charge of improper exhibition of a firearm was substituted. Thus, the defendant went from facing a 3-year mandatory prison sentence, to in the end receiving misdemeanor probation. This may not have happened if the case had not been investigated by the defense immediately.
There is another reason to retain an attorney as soon as possible. Evidence can evaporate as witnesses move, forget key information, or even die. It is best to get started on the defense case right away. The office of T. Charles Shafer, Attorney at Law can help a client immediately. This is true, regardless of whether the individual has been arrested in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Okeechobee, or any area within Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee or Indian River counties.
Alternative Punishments To Jail For A First Time Offender
Most first time offenders do not go to jail. Whether to incarcerate a defendant depends on a number of factors: the severity of the offense; whether the offense was a violent crime, and the severity of injury to the victim; whether the defendant has a prior criminal conviction history; the defendant’s family and employment situations; and things the defendant has done for the benefit of others in their community. In many cases, an individual who has led an otherwise law-abiding life before getting into legal trouble can qualify for probation. Probation allows a defendant to remain in the community, so long as they commit no further crimes and complete any other sanctions imposed as part of their sentence.
For those charged for a first time incident of domestic violence battery without a felony criminal history, St. Lucie county offers diversion into a pre-trial diversion program. The program requires the individual to enter a plea of guilty or “no contest” to the charge. They also are required to enter into a diversion agreement which includes completion of a batterer’s intervention program. If successful, such an individual ultimately can have their conviction withdrawn and the charge formally dismissed by the State Attorney. Though not everyone is successful in completing the six month batterer’s intervention program, the opportunity exists for anyone who truly wants to put an unfortunate situation behind them without a criminal conviction.
Additionally, people who are charged as first time offenders in Saint Lucie County with misdemeanor cannabis possession without a prior felony history may qualify for pre-trial intervention and diversion through what is commonly known as “drug court.” Like the domestic violence diversion program, this program also requires the defendant enter a plea to the charge and an agreement to complete the program. The individual is then evaluated for substance abuse, and is required to complete any treatment deemed necessary. During the program defendants are randomly screened for drugs or alcohol. If positive, an individual can be jailed or a time and continued in the program. Repeated violations of the program can lead to the individual being unsuccessfully discharged and sentenced for the crime.
All counties in Florida offer drug court diversion for first time felony offenders for drug possession without intent to sell or distribute. If an offender is not precluded because of prior record, they should be able to qualify for pre-trial diversion in a felony drug court.
At Sentencing, Your Clean Record Would Help Determine The Penalties
From the beginning, when a person is arrested their previous record matters a great deal, either in the amount of a bond that is set, or in being able to get a bond reduced by a court. Judges generally look more favorable upon someone raising a family and who has gainful employment.
At sentencing, the court would prefer to see that a defendant has family and friends in the courtroom that came on their behalf. The lack of prior record also certainly makes a huge difference.
The defense attorney can also present further evidence or statements made by the client. Such evidence carries more credibility when the defendant is an otherwise productive member of the community, as opposed to a defendant with a lengthy criminal history.
A first time first-time offender has the ability to ask the sentencing judge to exercise discretion and withhold adjudication of guilt. This means the defendant would not have a conviction on their record. This becomes very important when dealing with a felony crime, where conviction can cause a person to lose State and federal licensing, the ability to vote, and the ability to own and possess firearms and ammunition. Likewise, in a drug case, a defendant whose conviction is withheld does not suffer mandatory suspension of their driver’s license.
A felony conviction would prevent a person from being able to do so many things in the state of Florida. Nowadays, with employment being such a serious matter and permanent opportunities being so limited, employers often would not even talk to an individual with a felony conviction.
Thus, it is important to keep a conviction from being entered. Often after a having their conviction withheld, the defendant is placed on probation. Completion of probation is required to maintain the withhold of adjudication of guilt on the charge. If a defendant violates probation, they can be re-arrested for the violation and returned to court. The sentencing court can then impose a new sentence for violating probation, and also has the power to enter a conviction against the defendant for the crime.
For more information on Diversion Programs & Reduced Sentencing, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Regardless of whether you or your loved one has been arrested in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Okeechobee, or any area within Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee or Indian River counties, attorney T. Charles Shafer is here to provide aggressive, hard working representation.
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