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Alternative Programs for First-Time Offenders

Last updated on: July 26, 2022

By Lebedin Kofman LLP

It is important to know the landscape of where the case is heard. In Manhattan, for example, there are no alternative programs available for someone who is arrested on DWI since they are generally very strict on these types of cases. They want you to take a misdemeanor conviction if you were above a 0.14, which is why we end up going to trial on a lot of these cases and fighting them.

However, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island do have certain programs available for first-time offenders or sometimes even second-time offenders. This would be for cases where the conviction would have a very bad effect on your job or ability to earn a living.

You Might End up with BACtrack or an Ankle Bracelet

We could also get you a two-step conditional plea, meaning you would have to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and then participate in a program. You would then either have to wear an ankle bracelet for three or six months to monitor your alcohol levels, or you would have a keychain called a BACtrack which you would have to breathe into a couple of times a day to show you were not consuming alcohol.

TASC Monitoring

You may also get TASC monitoring for which you would have to come in once a week to give a urine test to prove you were not consuming alcohol. It can sometimes get even more intensive with the AEP, Alcohol Education Program, and DDP, Drinking Driving Program.

Ignition Interlock Devices

You might need to install the interlock ignition system for six months to a year to show you are committed and you understand you made a mistake.

If you behave yourself, you may be allowed to come back so that the misdemeanor would get erased and you would be left with just a violation.

What is pretrial diversion?

Pretrial diversion can be used as an alternative to traditional criminal sentencing. Although the defendant has admitted guilt, the judge will not sentence them to jail time. Instead, they will be required to take part in a program tailored to their particular case. If the defendant is charged with drug possession, the program could include substance abuse counseling, detox, and evaluation.

Programs typically last between 12 and 24 months with an average of 18 months. The defendant can often attend the program in an outpatient sober home and still work. To ensure all program conditions are met, the defendant will have a probation officer assigned.

The defendant will be released if he or she meets all requirements and successfully completes the program. The case will be closed and the defendant will not have any criminal convictions.

Diversion eligibility requirements

Defendants are charged with a Class B, C, D, or E felony drug offense (such as sale, possession, manufacturing, trafficking, etc.). Diversion may be available for certain nonviolent offenses or Class B, C, D, and E felony drug offenses. If a defendant has been convicted in the last ten years of a violent or Class A crime, or if they are adjudicated as a persistent violent felony offender, they will not be eligible for diversion.

Attending Rehabilitative Programs Can Help Reduce Penalties

People who end up going through these programs generally have a much better understanding and appreciation for why this should never happen again and why they should stay out of trouble, as compared to the prosecutor’s approach or perspective that no, they did not need these types of programs and that you had to take a misdemeanor because your reading was above a 0.14.

These people may end up taking a misdemeanor conviction, but they would not have anywhere near the appreciation as someone who ended up wearing an ankle bracelet so they could monitor their alcohol levels for six months.

It is a hassle to go to classes a couple of times a week and then come back to court every couple of months because the case drags on for a year, which is why someone who had to go through all of this process would really never want to do it again.

Unfortunately, these options are not offered in all counties. However, it would still be a possibility, provided your attorney could make a compelling argument for you, which is something we are oftentimes able to do for clients.

We recently handled a case where we were able to get a conditional plea for a client who had an alcohol reading of 0.21, and he had gotten into a head-on collision in his car. Our DWI attorneys were able to get him into a program where he had to wear an ankle bracelet for six months, and he got TASC monitoring.

He had to come into TASC for urinalysis once a week, and then after approximately a year of monitoring, we were able to come back and get him a violation where he had no criminal record.

These are things that should be taken into consideration, and this is why it is important to know the landscape of where you are waging the battle.

We are often able to get reductions in charges for our clients, and in our practice, it is extremely rare for our clients to end up pleading guilty to what they were initially charged with. We take this practice very seriously and we take our clients’ lives very seriously.

Our business is based off of referrals, so it would be impossible to ever find a client who would say that we did not fight our heart out to try to get them the absolute best possible deal. We tell our clients that we want to be their lawyers for life, and we want to handle everything they need as they move forward.

We also do this for other attorneys who work for us and who handle a lot of different practice areas. It would be very rare for one of our clients to plead guilty to a crime or be convicted of the crime they were charged with.

If you do go to trial, you will do so based on an understanding that you have a very good chance, and this decision will be made together with the client. Of course, it would ultimately be the client’s decision, but we will lay out all the possibilities for them and fight like crazy at the trial. We do our very best to get the client a dismissal of all charges.

Contact our DWI lawyers at (646) 663-4430 to schedule your free consultation.

Criminal Defense

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