SENTENCING: FIRST OFFENDER ALTERNATIVES

A person with no prior convictions may under some circumstances, get through court without a felony conviction. This depends on many factors. The charge cannot involve violence, sex, manufacture, sale, transfer of drugs, or possession of a controlled substance with intent for consideration to the alternative programs.

In pretrial diversion, the defendant must admit guilt but is never convicted. Diversion is similar to probation. The defendant is supervised and monitored, including drug tests. Any restitution must be paid. At the conclusion of pretrial diversion the case is closed and the defendant is discharged without a conviction. Pretrial diversion is run by the District Attorney's office.

Under non-adjudication or deferred adjudication, the court accepts a plea of guilty but declines to enter a finding of guilt. The plea is held in abeyance. There are separate laws for non-adjudication of drug and non-drug offenses. This means that when the defendant completes all conditions including payment of fine, restitution and probation, he is discharged without a felony conviction. However the person's arrest record (NCIC, FBI, Triple I (Interstate Identification Index or III), and local criminal history) will show a felony arrest. After discharge, the defendant may apply to expunge (erase) the felony arrest from his record.