Skip to main content

Do I need a lawyer? Do i qualify for a pretrial diversion? What should I plead?

Tampa, FL |

I am 18, in college, and have no prior record, i was recently caught shoplifting with the total amount reaching about $88. The sheriff said it is a 2nd degree misdemeanor and I was not arrested, but instead received a court date near the end of the month. I don't know what to do or how to pay for anything, clearly I'm broke because I was stealing. I was told I will most likely be put in the MIP program, what is this?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 5

Best Answer

I practice criminal defense in Hillsborough and surrounding counties. My office is in Tampa. There are many options available to you. As you were told, MIP may be a very viable option for you. If you are accepted into the program (and you should be with no prior record) and you successfully complete the terms and conditions set forth, the State Attorney's Office will dismiss or drop the charge against you. Do not simply plea to the offense without inquiring about MIP as a theft charge on your record could affect you for a long time to come, particularly as a young person looking to be employed in the near future. A dismissal of the charges would allow you to expunge your record while a Withhold of Adjudication would allow you to seal it. A conviction cannot be sealed or expunged so it's important that you work to avoid that, either with an attorney or on your own. I would note that this advice does not take into account that there may be motions to dismiss or suppress applicable based on the facts of your case that cannot be known by the limited information you have provided. If those types of motions are dispositive, meaning that the State of Florida cannot proceed if we win them, your case would be dismissed without you having to complete any terms or conditions. Also, if you do not successfully complete MIP or follow all instructions, you could be back at square one facing all the original sanctions. If you'd like to discuss the facts of your case in greater detail, I give free consultations, either by phone or in person. I also handle the seal or expunge process so that if the result allows for one of those to occur, the official records will not be able to be seen by the general public. I can explain more on that if you'd like to contact me at 813-225-2695. Best of luck to you.


you will most likely face a diversion program but I can not stress enough, get local counsel. This could impact your life greatly. Make sure this gets worked out properly. If you need a reference in Tampa, check the FACDL website or email me off list and I will give you some references. Good luck


Most times I hear someone ask "do I need a lawyer" it is because they know they need one but want to be able to get through the process without one. It appears to be the same case here. Speaking to an attorney will enable you to determine what the best route to go down will be.


I am a criminal defense attorney in Tampa. The MIP program is the Misdemeanor Intervention Program. It is a diversion program for first time offenders charged with misdemeanor offenses. It is usally a 6 month program and it is run through the Salvation Army in Hillsborough County. If you complete the program the State Attorney's Office will dismiss the charge(s). You can then have your record expunged. If you need assistance I offer free initial consultations at 813-374-0353.


You may qualify for the MIP or Misdemeanor Intervention Program, but to get in it you will have to make application, pay a fee and wait for your record to be checked. If you qualify, you'll still have to accomplish a few things (including restitution) and stay clean for six m onths or so before the case is dismissed.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer