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Felony Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) in Hillsborough County, FL

If you were charged with a felony and have no prior criminal record or only a minor record, you may qualify for the felony pre-trial intervention (PTI) program. The State Attorney's Office in Hillsborough County offers this program either on a pre-file basis before arraignment (before any charging document is file) or after the charging document has been filed and you have been formally arraigned on the charge.

This program for felony pre-trial intervention in Hillsborough County is different from the misdemeanor pre-trial intervention program. In cases in which the prosecutor is motivated to resolve the case short of trial, your criminal defense attorney might be able to persuade the prosecutor to file the charge as a misdemeanor (or amend the charge to a misdemeanor if felony charges have already been filed) for the purposes of making the case eligible for the misdemeanor pre-trial intervention program.

The State Attorney's Office in Tampa decides the rules that will apply to the PTI program. In some cases, the State Attorney's Office is willing to bend those rules or find a work around so that a person first declared to be not eligible can still complete the PTI program.

Attorney for the PTI Program in Tampa, FL

Experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you determine whether a diversion program is the best way to resolve the case. If so, the attorney can help you get into the program under the best possible terms.

The criminal defense attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent clients on felony and misdemeanor charges throughout Hillsborough County, FL. We can help you decide whether entering a diversion program is the best way to resolve your case. We also represent clients after an allegation that they violated the Pre-Trial Intervention program.

Call 813-250-0500 today to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer in Tampa, FL.


What is the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL?

In Florida, the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) programs are actually provided for through F.S. §948.08 and §948.16. The felony-level intervention programs are supervised by the Department of Corrections. The DOC operates a Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. 

The goal of the PTI program is to give a first-time felony offender the opportunity to avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction by diverting the case away from the judge and the trial court process. Defendants charged with a qualifying third-degree felony can be approved for this program which is not generally available for more serious charges.

If you are facing more serious charges, the prosecutor will sometimes agree to reduce the charges so that you become eligible for the PTI program in Tampa, FL.


Offenses Not Eligible for Diversion in Florida

Please note that third-degree degree felony offenses are eligible for PTI. For the most part, the prosecution will not make exceptions to allow defendants charged with non-qualifying offenses into the PTI Program.

Although the State Attorney's Office doesn't advertise this option, the office has been known to amend the charge to a different charge solely for the purposes of permitting the case into the Pre-Trial Diversion program.

Examples of third degree felony offenses that are not eligible for diversion include:

  • Any type of violent crime;
  • Any weapons charges;
  • Any felony of the second degree or higher;
  • Attempted residential burglary;
  • Restitution owed over $5,000 at time of application;
  • Possession of an anti-shoplifting control device;
  • Offenses against governmental entities;
  • Unemployment compensation fraud;
  • Welfare fraud;
  • Crimes indicative of an organized scheme to defraud;
  • Offenses involving vending, forging or counterfeiting private labels;
  • Possession of heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, or one half gram or more of cocaine;
  • Felony DWLS;
  • Felony DUI;
  • Leave Scene of Accident;
  • Fleeing/Eluding;
  • Robbery; and
  • Aggravated Assault.

Does my Prior Record Make Me Ineligible?

To be eligible for the Pre-Trial Intervention Program in Tampa, the applicant must have no prior adult felony arrests and/or convictions and no more than one (1) prior conviction for a non-violent misdemeanor crime.

If an applicant is twenty-five (25) years or less and possesses a juvenile record of criminal offenses indicative of disregard for the criminal laws, in the opinion of the State Attorney’s Office, the Applicant may be disqualified for entry into the PTI program.


What If I'm Innocent or the Prosecutor Can't Prove the Case?

If you are innocent of the charge then the PTI program is probably not the best option for you. Entry into the program essentially equates to an acknowledgement of wrongdoing even through it is done informally.

For professionals such as school teachers and certified educators, nurses and health care professionals, members of the military, law enforcement officers entering any diversion program might be career ending and cause serious licensure issues. For a non-citizen entering diversion can also cause serious immigration issues.

According to the State Attorney's Office website:

"All applicants must provide to the felony PTI program a notarized typed sworn statement detailing the facts and circumstances of the offense for which the applicant has been arrested/charged. If the sworn statement so provided does not contain facts indicative of knowledge or conduct on the part of the applicant consistent with guilt of all of the elements of the offense (including value of the items stolen if applicable), factually or legally, in the opinion of the State Attorney’s Office, this office will not consent to the applicant’s entry into the program. All attorneys and applicants should review the State Attorney’s Office Pre-Trial Intervention Guidelines for conditions under which this sworn statement may be used against a defendant."


Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for PTI?

Yes, it is usually not a good do-it-yourself project. If you can afford to hire a private attorney then you should do so. If you cannot afford a private attorney then you can apply for the services of the public defender's office. Either a privately retained attorney or an attorney with the public defender's office can help you determine whether you are eligible for PTI, whether it is in your best interest to enter the program, and the collaterial consequences that go along with entering PTI. Those collaterial consequences can last a lifetime so speaking with an experienced attorney is important.

Keep in mind that anything you say in the PTI application can be used against you at trial as rebuttal evidence for purposes of impeachment. If the Applicant is accepted into the PTI program and subsequently unsatisfactorily terminated from the Program the statement MAY be used as evidence in the State’s case at the prosecutor’s discretion, in the event of a trial on the charge for which the Applicant applied for entry into the Program.


How is PTI Different from Probation?

The PTI program looks a lot like probation although probation is court-ordered after a plea in front of a judge. On the other hand, the diversion program is voluntary after you are diverted away from the judge and into the voluntary program.

If you violate probation you can be locked up with "no bond" and then sentenced to anything the judge could have originally sentenced you to which can include 5 years in prison on a third degree felony. On the other hand, if you violate the terms of PTI then your case is just put back on a calendar in front of the judge and you can resume your fight through the normal trial court process as long as you have not entered a plea. Keep in mind that any statement you made during the application process might be used against you at trial.

Reason that you might not successfully complete the program include:

  1. you are accused of violating the law while under supervision;
  2. the agreement is deemed void because it is determined that you have a prior record of adult criminal felony convictions;
  3. the agreement is deemed void because your immigration status is no longer valid or has expired.

What Happens if I Successfully Complete the Program?

If you successfully completion the year long PTI program, then the charge will be dismissed. In order to complete the PTI program you will be requried to complete several tasks which can include:

  • pay full restitution to the victim, if applicable;
  • complete self-improvement education;
  • stay out of trouble during the period of supervision;
  • report to the Department of Probation on a monthly basis;
  • complete up to 40 hours of community service; and
  • pay the costs to complete the program.

What if I Want to Fight the Charges and Then Decide Later to Enter Diversion

According to the State Attorney's Office website, the State Attorney's Office takes the position that the taking of depositions or the litigation of substantive motions will disqualify a defendant from PTI consideration. This rule can be waived by the prosecutor assigned to the case.

If the prosecutor has problems proving their case, they might become very motivated to bend that rule. 


When Will I Find Out if I'm Eligible for Diversion?

The State Attorney's Office Will normally offer PTI at the arraignment or shortly thereafter if you are eligible. If you are eligible, then certain documents must be completed and provided to the Department of Corrections within a certain time period after arraignent. After the application is recieved, a PTI officer will review and process the application to determine if the defendant qualifies for the program. The entire process may take from 30 to 90 days from the date the application is received at the PTI office.

After the application is recieved, a PTI officer will review and process the application to determine if the defendant qualifies for the program. The entire process may take from 30 to 90 days from the date the application is received at the PTI office.

If you want to be considered for the "pre-file" version of PTI then your attorney must act quickly. The prosecutor typically makes a filing decision within 21 days of the arrest.


What if I Live Out of State?

If you meet the PTI requirements and are subsequently supervised within the State of Florida by the Florida Department of Corrections are not required to enter a plea of guilty to the charges to participate in PTI, but if you reside out of state during the period of supervision, the State Attorney's Office might require you to enter a plea of "guilty" to the charges and have your sentencing deferred for a period of one year.

Your supervision will be subject to the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision. In many cases, this defeats many of the benefits of agreeing to diversion.

To be eligible under the compact, the Department of Corrections takes the position that the offender must enter a plea of guilty and waive the right to a trial in order to be eligible for supervision under the Interstate Compact. Then if you complete the progam (as determine by the State Attorney's Office) then you will be allowed to withdraw your plea of guilty and the case will be dismissed.

On the other hand, if the State Attorney's Office determines that you failed to complete the program then you will be sentenced by the Court and the prosecutor might oppose any motion to withdraw the plea.

An application received after the forty-five (45) days from the arraingment requires a waiver letter from the State Attorney’s Office. To obtain this waiver, the criminal defense attorney for the defendant must mail, fax or email a request explaining good cause for the delay. Again, this requirement can be waived by the Assistant State Attorney assigned to the case.


Eligibility of Drug Offenses in the PTI Program

Many third degree felony drug charged are eligible for the Drug PTI program. As explained above, certain drug crimes including possession of heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, or one half gram or more of cocaine are not eligible for the drug PTI program.

Additionally, the prosecutor will not permit a defendant charged with a qualifying offense into the program when the facts or circumstances indicate that the defendant was involved in dealing, selling or trafficking drugs.

All PTI participants are subject to random drug testing. One positive drug test will cause a defendant to be dismissed from the program. Although individuals rejected from drug PTI might still be eligible to participate in Drug Court, subject to the rules of that program. Defendants who have entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) in Drug Court are not eligible for the felony PTI program.


Requirements to Apply to PTI

In order to be accepted into PTI, the criminal defense attorney will help the client complete the following documents which are then submitted to the program:

  1. PTI Interview Worksheet, signed and notarized;
  2. Felony PTI Initial Data Sheet;
  3. Copy of Information;
  4. Copy of Probable Cause Affidavit;
  5. Statement of Admission, typed, signed and notarized;
  6. Waiver of Rights, signed and notarized;
  7. Deferred Prosecution Agreement, signed and witnessed; and
  8. PTI Document Checklist.

Additional Resources

Adult Probation and Supervision Offices in the 13th Judicial Circuit - Visit the website of the Florida Department of Correction to learn more about the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit’s Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program in and for Hillsborough County, FL. The Tampa Circuit Office of the Probation Office, Southern Regional Office. 

138 - TAMPA PRE-TRIAL INTERVENTION
1313 N. Tampa Street, Suite 219S
Tampa, Florida 33602
(813) 975-6524
Fax: (813) 233-3761

Diversion Programs: PTI ... Dismissal ... Problem Solved...or Is It? - Find an article in The Florida Bar Journal, October, 2008 Volume 82, No. 9, that explains the history of felony and misdemeanor diversion programs in Florida under F.S. §948.08 and §948.16. The article discusses the collateral consequences that attach to entering the program.  The article also identified issues of concern surrounding acceptance of guilt or responsibility, notice to employer and visits to work or school, preclusion to expunction, mandatory donation provisions, and consequences of violation of a diversion program. The article explains that entering an intervention agreements require consultation with a criminal defense attorney because the violation of the terms of the diversion program can be held against a client on the criminal punishment code scoresheet. See Fla. R. Crim. Pro.704 and 3.992.


This article was last updated on Friday, March 24, 2017.

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