For most people, being arrested and being forced to navigate the criminal justice system is a scary proposition. Knowing what to expect can ease this anxiety. Every criminal case develops in the same way after the prosecution has decided to prosecute the case. Once the prosecution has levied charges against a person that person has two options: option 1) take the case to trial before a jury of his or her peers, option 2) reach a deal with the prosecution.
If a person chooses trial, the prosecution has to prove the accusations beyond every reasonable doubt to a jury before the person can be convicted. A good defense attorney can make sure that the jury sees all the evidence in the case that can help the defendant, and in that way increase the chances of an acquittal.
If a person chooses to not take the case to trial, then the person has to make a deal with the prosecution. In Miami Dade County there are three typical resolutions to a case. If a person has no previous contacts with the criminal justice system the person will usually qualify for the Pre-trial Intervention program (PTI). To go into the PTI program in Miami Dade the person is not required to plea guilty to the charges. Once the person completes the program the prosecution will dismiss the charges against the person. PTI is the best resolution to a criminal case because it does not carry a risk of conviction or jail time.
The next potential resolution to a criminal case is a probationary sentence. A probationary sentence can come with a conviction or with a withhold of adjudication, which does not result in a conviction. While there are many different conditions of probation that a person may be require to abide by, the typical conditions of probation are random drug tests, submission to warrantless searches by a probation officer, reporting requirements, community service hours, and not leaving the county without permission.
The third potential resolution to a criminal case is a straight time sentence. In this scenario the person pleads guilty to the charge and proceeds to serve a jail or prison sentence. Upon completion of the jail or prison sentence the person is done with the case and has no additional requirements.
The fourth potential resolution to a criminal case is what is called a split sentence. In this scenario the person pleads guilty and is sentenced to jail or prison time, to be followed by a probationary sentence. In this scenario once the person finishes his or her jail sentence the person is under the supervision of a probation officer and has probationary conditions to abide by.
In any event, a person who violates probation is subject to the maximum penalty he or she would have been subjected to if he or she was convicted at trial. This means that a person who violates probation can be sentenced up to the maximum sentence allowed by law for the charge regardless of how long or how short the original probationary period was.
If you or a loved one is navigating the criminal justice system give us a call. We would love to help.