Avoiding A Conviction
In the event that you are ultimately charged with a crime and the facts of your case do not support any motion beneficial to your case, there is still the possibility of avoiding a formal conviction so that you do not become a convicted criminal.
First and foremost, you always have the right to a trial – either by jury or by judge. There are many factors to consider (and discuss with your defense attorney) before deciding whether to proceed to trial or to waive that right. Obviously, you will want to weigh the evidence collected by law enforcement and the prosecution, consider possible witnesses and other evidence that might help instill reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors, and consider the possible punishment that could be dispensed upon conviction.
Even if a trial does not seem to be an advisable alternative in your situation, there are several options that may still be available to you (though rarely offered to a defendant without the intervention of a criminal defense attorney). Depending on the nature of the charges against you and your criminal history, you might be eligible for pretrial diversion, pretrial intervention or drug court. These are programs, run by either the State’s Attorney’s office or the court, which resolve your charges and place you in a program similar to probation (often including substance abuse treatment). If you are able to complete the program without any problems, your charges will generally be dismissed and no conviction will be entered on your record.
In some cases, the court will agree to withhold adjudication, basically pending completion of probation. If terms of probation are met, no conviction is ever entered. If terms of probation are violated and probation is revoked, the court still has full authority to convict and sentence you to the full extent allowed by law.
Even if diversion or withheld adjudication is not an option, there are many circumstances in which a defense attorney can negotiate a reduction in charges from felony to misdemeanor or a reduction in the number of charges against his client. This is not uncommon when a defense attorney can show the State’s Attorney no prior criminal records and/or a problem of proof (missing or contrary physical evidence, questionable witness testimony or an uncooperative victim).
The decision as to which approach to take is always best made after detailed consultation with an experience defense attorney, who knows both the law and the typical decisions of local criminal court judges.
If you have been charged and are at risk of being convicted of a crime in Hillsborough, Pinellas or surrounding Florida counties, contact us immediately. Call 813-521-8069 or fill out our contact form to have us call you. We can also discuss your case privately in either our Clearwater or Tampa office.