How Can Being a First-Time Offender Affect Your Case and Penalties?

If you do not have any prior convictions or pending criminal cases against you, the chances are greater that you can avoid jail time or even participate in pretrial diversion programs that can result in the state dropping the charges against you.

If you ask anyone who was convicted of a crime when they were young, they will tell you one of two things. Either they will tell you that they have long since learned from their mistakes, or they will tell you that the state is determined to punish you just for existing and, therefore, there is no point in trying to stay on the right side of the law. It is just as easy to learn from one’s mistakes, and much easier to apply those lessons, outside the walls of a prison than inside them. The motivations for crimes such as drug possession, theft, vandalism, and low-level fraud are much more likely to be an addiction, mental illness, economic desperation, or the confusion and stress of youth than a thoroughly considered determination to harm others. In recent decades, Texas and other states have shifted toward rehabilitative justice for first-time defendants in nonviolent offense cases. The Austin criminal defense lawyers at Granger and Mueller can help increase your chances that your first run-in with the criminal justice system is your last.

First-Time Offender Programs in Texas

If you are facing your first criminal case, and it is for a nonviolent and non-sexual offense, the chances are good that your sentence will not involve incarceration, even if you are being charged with a felony. Texas offers a robust selection of pretrial diversion programs for first-time offenders charged with nonviolent crimes. You can apply for participation in a pretrial diversion program early on in your criminal case; a criminal defense lawyer can help you do this. The court will determine which pretrial diversion program, if any, is appropriate for you.

For example, if you are being charged with drug possession, the criminal court may refer you to drug court, where you will participate in substance abuse treatment, in addition to frequent drug tests and meetings with a community supervision officer. Subsequent to a mental health evaluation, your pretrial diversion program may involve court-ordered mental health treatment; if you complete either the drug program or the mental health program successfully, the court may drop the charges against you. Defendants charged with almost any nonviolent crime benefit from counseling and social support, even if they do not have a diagnosed mental illness. Thus, pretrial diversion programs for first-time defendants are very successful at reducing recidivism; many participants who complete pretrial diversion never get another criminal case.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer in Austin TX Can Help You Avoid Draconian Punishments

A criminal defense lawyer can help you access pretrial diversion programs that will help you stay on the right side of the law for life. Contact Granger and Mueller in Austin, Texas, or call (512) 474-9999.