If you have been arrested or charged with theft, you may be eligible for a program administered by the State Attorney’s Office called pretrial intervention, or PTI for short. The pretrial intervention program is what is known as a diversionary program, which means that it is an alternative to either going to trial or having to appear before a judge. The program consists of a short term of probation, usually around three months in duration for a misdemeanor, and one year for a felony charge. During this time, the person accused performs some community services hours, pays court costs and supervision fees, and agrees to repay any restitution that might be owed to the alleged victim. As would be expected, while in the PTI program you can not be arrested or charged with any new crimes. Out of state and seasonal residents are also eligible for the PTI program. The pretrial intervention program is offered in Sarasota County, as well as Manatee County.
The advantage to entering the PTI program is that by successfully completing the program, all charges are dismissed against you, and for purposes of a “criminal record”, you were not convicted of any crime. It would also entitle you to move to have the record of your charge either sealed or expunged, if you are otherwise eligible. The record sealing procedure is discussed in more detail on the next page.
Not everyone who is charged with theft is going to be eligible for the PTI program. To be accepted into PTI, the victim of the theft is contacted by the prosecutor’s office to see whether they object. If the victim objects, it is very likely that your application will be rejected. If you have ever in any jurisdiction received pretrial intervention on a previous case, it is extremely rare, and unlikely you will be allowed to enter the program a second time. Likewise, if you have ever been convicted of a crime in any state, this will normally disqualify you from pretrial intervention, which is designed for first time offenders. On the other hand, if you have been previously arrested or charged with a crime, but those charges were later dropped, this would not disqualify you from PTI.