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Update: Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) – A Questionable Success

Melinda Morris
By: Melinda Morris
May. 10 2017

Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program - Update - 05-10-17

We wrote extensively about the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) in our blog last November shortly after it was launched – read the original blog here: Pinellas Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion (APAD) Program – The Good, The Bad, and the Unknown  – that blog outlined the program, eligibility criteria, as well as the pros and cons of the program.

When we originally wrote about the APAD program we raised concerns over its constitutionality, the requirement to admit guilt, selective enforcement, and existence of records that are not governed by the Florida statutes in place to seal or expunge official criminal records.  

Many criminal defense attorneys and the media have raised the same issues in addition to the costs to run the program.  Read: You Paid For It: $300,000 Pinellas arrest diversion program sidesteps justice system.  Unfortunately, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has not directly addressed these concerns.

The above and previously documented issues with the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) have not stopped Sheriff Bob Gualtieri from celebrating what the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office believes to be the program’s success.  In a recent Tampa Bay Times article, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri: New diversion program for minor offenses is working, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office declares success citing that more than 450 people have avoided a formal criminal arrest.  This is an interesting declaration of victory considering that the program has barely been in place for six months.  Further, the statistics provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office state that between its launch in October 2016 and April 2017 that only 39 percent, or 816 of the 2,105 people referred to the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) have been accepted.  Further, only 469 of those 816 people accepted, or 57 percent, completed the community service they were assigned.  Additionally, there were 67 people admitted into the APAD program who failed to complete the program and formal criminal charges were then filed (another issue we previously discussed in our blog on this subject).

It should be noted that there are no fines issued to the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) participants.  Sheriff Bob Gualtieri views this as an advantage for Pinellas County residents stating in the article that, “The criminal justice system should not be pay to play.”  This sentiment unfortunately is contradictory to the normal course of business in Pinellas County courtrooms where statutory court costs are imposed on criminal defendants every day when their cases are resolved.  The Pinellas County Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) apparently has nothing incorporated to offset the program’s $300,000 initial costs and annual running costs.

In a report to the Pinellas County Commission, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said of the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD), “It’s the only one like it in the state of Florida.” Given the myriad issues including questionable constitutionality, selective enforcement, and what appears to be low percentages of people actually being engaged in the program, perhaps there is a reason it is the only one of its kind.

Based on all of the potential issues and pitfalls related to the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion (APAD) Program, you may want to consult with a criminal defense attorney to be advised of your rights and to ensure that an APAD referral is in your best legal interests.  The Morris Law Firm provides a reasonable flat fee consultation to ensure you understand the APAD program and understand your rights before accepting the referral to the program.  There may be other ways to resolve your issue outside of APAD depending on the circumstances.  Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736, Option 1 for New Clients to speak with an attorney about your APAD referral.