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Federal First Time Offenders Act

People who have been convicted of or are charged with certain federal drug crimes may be eligible for the federal diversion program, which is described in the Federal First Offender Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 3607. Diversion programs often are an outlet used to avoid hefty penalties, including jail time, as well as a criminal record.

Being a participant in a diversion program can be especially important when facing federal charges because the penalties associated with them often are more severe than state charges. It is important to understand the criminal charges you face and how you can fight them. A St. Petersburg federal criminal defense lawyer can help.

St. Petersburg Federal First Offender Act Attorney

If you have been arrested as a first-time offender or have charges pending in federal court, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before communicating and making statements to any law enforcement agencies. The skilled and experienced attorneys at Morris Law Firm, P.A. can help you fight to keep a clean criminal record.

Morris Law Firm, P.A. consistently works with first-time offenders who often have questions about the criminal justice system and any regulations or case law that may benefit their specific case. Morris Law Firm, P.A. is experienced in federal court and can help you through the overwhelming process.

Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients throughout St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Dunedin, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Polk and other nearby areas in both state and federal court. Contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. at (727) 388-4736 or fill out our online form to be contacted for a free initial consultation.

Information for First-Time Offenders

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What is the Federal First Offenders Act?

The Federal First Offender Act, also known as FFOA, provides a special probation program for first offenders. The term “first-time offender” often refers to people who are convicted of a legal offense for the first time. This designation usually gives the accused an opportunity to fight for some leniency in the legal process.

In essence, the code specifies that in certain non-violent cases of drug possession, first-time offenders may complete a period of probation that would allow them to have the charge dismissed without a conviction being entered. The arrest and the case itself also may be expunged. The result is that the first-time offender can truthfully deny having been convicted of the underlying criminal offense.

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How Can I Qualify for the Diversion Program?

Avoiding a criminal record and all of the penalties that can accompany a conviction is important. However, not everyone how commits a crime for the first time is eligible for the program. In order to qualify for first offender treatment under federal law, a person must show he or she:

  • Has been found guilty of simple possession of a controlled substance
  • Has not, prior to the commission of such offense, been convicted of violating a federal or state law relating to controlled substances
  • Has not previously been accorded first offender treatment under any law
  • The court has entered an order pursuant to a state rehabilitative statute under which the criminal proceedings have been deferred pending successful completion of probation or the proceedings have been or will be dismissed after probation

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Special Probation and Expungement Procedures for Drug Possessors

Pre-judgment Probation If a person is found guilty of an offense described in section 404 of the Controlled Substances Act, such as possession of a controlled substance,the court may, with the consent of such person, place him or her on probation for a term of not more than one year without entering a judgment of conviction.

If the person has not violated a condition of his or her probation, the court may, without entering a judgment of conviction, dismiss the proceedings against the person and discharge him from probation. This could be done before the probation period is completed.

Once the probation period is completed, if the person has not violated a condition of his or her probation, the court can dismiss the proceedings against the person and discharge him from probation. This could be done without entering a judgment of conviction. If the person violates a condition of his probation, the court could resentence the person.

Record of Disposition — A nonpublic record of a disposition or a conviction that is the subject of an expungement order will be retained by the Department of Justice solely for the purpose of use by the courts in determining in any subsequent proceeding whether a person qualifies for the disposition.

It would not be considered a conviction for the purpose of a disqualification or a disability imposed by law upon conviction of a crime or for any other purpose.

Expungement of Record of Disposition — If the case against a person found guilty of an offense under section 404 of the Controlled Substances Act is the subject of a disposition and the person was younger than 21 years old at the time of the offense, the court shall enter an expungement order upon the application of such person.

The expungement order means it should be expunged from all official records, except the nonpublic records. This would include all references to an arrest for the offense, the institution of criminal proceedings against him or her and the results thereof. This is done to restore the person to the status he or she was at prior to the offense.

After the expungement, a person would not be guilty of perjury, false swearing or making a false statement by reason of his failure to recite or acknowledge such arrests or institution of criminal proceedings in response to an inquiry for any purpose.

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Finding A Federal First-Time Offender Lawyer in Pinellas County

Morris Law Firm, P.A. is dedicated to assisting first-time offenders on a state and federal level. Our experienced attorneys focus on seeking dismissals, reduction in charges, pre-trial diversion and sealing and expungement of criminal charges, all of which can help first-time offenders. Call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free consultation.