My son, (21 years old) was arrested recently with two Grand Theft charges...(shoplifting at a major retailer) both felonies. He is awaiting an arraignment hearing and in speaking with his Public Defender, both of these options were presented and this is his first round in the judicial system. Quite frankly, I don't know one from the other. Our main goal is to try to have the charges reduced from felonies to misdemeanors as to not exclude him from employment and educational opportunities, or do whatever is needed to get his record as 'cleared' as is possible. He is willing to stay in custody until he knows which path is right for him to get his life back on track. Please advise!!
Personal Injury Lawyer
Though I do not practice in Lee County, it seems that the "early intervention docket" may be what is commonly called a pre-trial diversion or pre-trial intervention program, as this is your son's first offense. If that is the case, that option would divert your son from the criminal justice system. He would most likely have to perform community service, pay fees/fines, restitution (if required), and maybe take a class or two. If it is this type of program the length varies from county to county. The other option seems to be a plea bargain (not enough information is given, would it be a plea as charged or for a reduction to misdemeanor?) where your son would have to plea either guilty or no contest for an agreed upon sentence and the judge would "withhold adjudication," which under Florida law means that the conviction is not legally imposed. If this is correct, the first option would be best because if he completes all the terms and conditions the prosecutor would dismiss the charges and he could then petition the court to expunge his record. With the second option he may still be able to seal his record, but the first is preferable.
Seems like this is a matter where your son needs to hire a private attorney or go with the public defender. Ask questions, and be sure you have all the information needed to make an informed decision. The way this case is resolved will have an impact on your son's record and future.
Criminal Defense Attorney
The Early Intervention Docket is just a name given here in Lee County to felony cases the court more quickly sets for a hearing. It is NOT equivalent to pre-trial diversion. Although it is possible that PTD will be entered at the EID date. Other than that distinction, I agree with Mr. Corzo about what PTD is and what a withhold is.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Your goal should be to get the charges dropped or win at trial. The chances of this happening are maximized by having a good attorney to obtain discovery, take depositions, scrutinize the State's cases, prepare defenses, file pre-trial motions and prepare for trial. Early intervention is just the name of a court date where you are supposed to get a "favorable" offer. The problem is that no one will know what a favorable outcome for your son's cases is, including the prosecutor, because not enough will be known yet about the State's ability to prove the cases. Having adjudication withheld is a good thing because he will not be getting a felony conviction. However, it will still be on his record that he was sentenced on felony charges. You should talk to the public defender about whether there are any risks associated with passing up the early intervention plea (such as revoked offers that will get worse if not accepted) or whether it would be better to push toward trial and try to get the cases dismissed or at least reduced to misdemeanors. Much will depend on the strength of the evidence against your son.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
In a nutshell, Early Intervention Docket (EID) is an expedited resolution proceeding and Withholding Adjudication is a sentencing term which reflects your non-conviction for a criminal charge or accusation. Both can be favorable but not automatic. There are several reasons why your son may want his case scheduled for EID but that does not guarantee a withholding of adjudication. Likewise a withholding of adjudication can be obtained, under the right set of circumstances, beyond an EID date. There is also the possibility that neither EID nor a withholding of adjudication may be the right option. An affordable, experienced attorney can meet with you and/or visit your son, review his case and discuss his possible options.
Your best bet is to have your son represented by the lawyer of his choice instead of an attorney by default. Let us know if you wish to schedule an appointment with our Firm by calling 239-337-0123.
Either way, I wish you luck.
MC Fernandez III, Esq.
I agree with the answers previously submitted. The Early Intervention Docket is a name that is used in Lee County to handle cases for individuals with little to no criminal history in an expedited manner. Depending on the facts of the case(s), a Diversion program may be offered through EID. A withhold of adjudication is a sentencing term which reflects your non-conviction for a criminal charge or accusation. I would advise your son to meet with an attorney and hire an attorney of his choosing that will best evaluate the case and explain, in detail, his various options.