For first time offenders, the thought of prosecutions, fines, and jail time can be daunting. You don't know what to expect, it may be hard for you to understand the legalese you'll be dealing with for the first time, and you might have no where to turn for help. Many people who have never committed crimes, and have never been through the criminal justice system or dealt with law enforcement, are unaware that the traditional path isn't the only one available. There are always options to avoid time wasted in court or time behind bars, and there are even ways to walk away without a criminal or arrest record.
If you have committed a first-time offense in South Carolina, and are interested in an alternative program to keep your official records clean, call TF Law to talk to us about the options available to you. Getting you back on the right track is always our goal, and pre-trial intervention programs are one of the best ways to accomplish that, though there are more additional programs if you feel that PTI is not the best fit.
What is PTI?
Pre-trial intervention (PTI) program, is a program available in South Carolina to help rehabilitate first time offenders. This means persons who have been arrested for or charged with their first criminal charges in South Carolina. This program is an alternative to traditional prosecution, reserved only for first time offenders, to try and rehabilitate these offenders through hours of community service, restitution paid to the victims of their crimes, and normally some kind of individual or group counseling related to your criminal activity.
South Carolina normally requires around 30-50 hours of community service, though this may go up depending on the criminal behavior. On top of this, you will be required to submit to regular and randomized drug testing, as well are pay restitution to victims of your crimes. Restitution payments aren't always a requirement, especially if your crime is a victimless crime. You will also attend rehabilitative treatment such as group or individual counseling sessions, in or out patient rehab if needed for drug-related crimes, and educational classes. These educational classes will vary depending on your crimes, and can range from an alcohol education program to even a traffic education program, or a South Carolina jobs challenge program.
Successful completion of your treatment program will see you back on track, with a clean criminal record, no criminal prosecution, and no jail time under your belt.
Who Qualifies for PTI?
Not every offender qualifies for PTI, even if they have a clean record prior to this offense. Certain criminal charges will exclude you from being able to participate in the pre-trial intervention program. DUI or DWI offenders and crimes related to violence will disqualify you from being able to participate, as well as various other crimes. This means that non-violent crimes like shoplifting offenses will normally qualify for PTI, but armed robbery will not. If you're not sure if you qualify or not, you should speak with an experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.
For offenders whose crimes do qualify them for PTI, you must be 18 years or older to join the program, as well as have been charged with a non-violent crime and not have a criminal record.
How Is the Application Process for PTI?
You will need to apply through your solicitors office for the program, or your attorney can do so for you. There is a non-refundable $100 application fee. If you application is accepted by the Solicitors office you will then need to pay several other program fees:
- $250 participation fee
- $250 application for expungement fee
- $35 clerk of court filing fee
On top of these fees, there are also the fees for the regular drug testing you will undergo, as well as possible counseling fees depending on the counseling services you are required to attend. These additional costs vary and will be explained to you after acceptance.
If you have applied and been accepted into a PTI program, you will need to bring your social security card, passport or ID, $25 in cash for your first drug test, a copy of your tickets or arrest warrant, and the money order or cashier's check for your fees to your orientation appointment. Personal checks and cash will not be accepted to pay your fees.
How Long Is PTI?
Pretrial intervention programs are a minimum of 90-days in the state of South Carolina, but may be longer depending on the nature of your criminal charges. After your application to intervention program has been accepted, the Program director will tell you your requirements for graduating the program. This can include program guidelines, the time-frame of your program, collection of restitution, and a clean drug test, among other requirements. You will also be told how many community service hours you must complete, and which rehabilitative services you must attend.
Please note that if you do not complete the program requirements and participation requirements, you fail a drug test, or you are re-arrested during this program, none of your fee are refundable, you will face your original criminal charges, and you will no longer be eligible for any pre-trial intervention programs. Successful completion of your diversionary program is the goal, however.
A Non-Violent Criminal Offense Doesn't Have to Change Your Life
We all make mistakes in life, many people have drug related charges or other minor offenses from their late teens or early twenties that will sit on their records for their entire lives, unless they pay to go through the expungement process. Through a pre-trial intervention program, however, that doesn't have to be your reality. There's no reason that underage possession of beer or simple possession drug convictions should affect the rest of your life.
If you're interested in pre-trial intervention in South Carolina, or just want to know what other diversion programs options might be available to you, reach out to Touma & Fedalei. As dedicated criminal defense attorneys, we will walk you through all the options available, from community service or plea deals to pre-trial intervention. Once we help you find the right path to take, we'll be with you every step of the way.