Being charged with an offense can be a frightening experience for many reasons. One of which is the mark on your criminal record that will more than likely affect your employment and other aspects of your life now and in the future. If this is your first criminal offense, you may be eligible for a first offender program. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker in Fort Worth, Texas have experience with Texas first offender programs and can guide you through the process.
About first offender programs
First offender programs provide a different, more favorable sentencing option for those individuals that complete an established rehabilitation program and meet certain requirements. They offer an opportunity to avoid the normal conviction process and a criminal record. While programs differ from state to state, the first offender program in Texas provides a way for these defendants to reduce their sentence by satisfactorily completing a first offender program. Not all first time offenders are eligible for a first offender program; it depends on the crime and other variables.
First time drug offenders
The Texas First Time Offender Felony Charge Act stipulates that first time felony drug offenders who do not have any previous convictions in the state of Texas can avert the maximum sentence. To qualify, the first time offender must satisfy the court’s sentencing guidelines, which includes completion of a mandatory drug rehabilitation program and professional counseling. In order to qualify, the offender must not have been convicted, not ever had supervised community service, must not have deferred adjudication, and cannot have any pending cases for offenses other than Class C misdemeanors.
Not all crimes are eligible
Those first-time offenders facing a charge of murder or intentional homicide may not have their sentences reduced. Crimes that involve an act of violence — or where there is an implied threat of violence — are not eligible. In addition, those charged with first-time felony sex offenses are also not eligible for reduced sentencing in Texas.
Second chance law and DWI
Texas recently introduced new legislation – called the “Second Chance Law” — that allows first offenders of low-level crimes the opportunity to have their record sealed from public view. Only first DWI offenders who had a blood alcohol content of less than 0.14 — who were not involved in an accident or hurt someone – and those with nonviolent Class C misdemeanors are eligible. For those who meet the program requirements and complete the terms of court orders, their conviction would no longer stand in the way of current or future employment. Law enforcement will still have access to any DWI record and the first offense still counts toward any future DWI offenses.
Contact a skilled Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer to answer all your first offender program questions
The experienced criminal defense team at the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker in Fort Worth, Texas, helps those individuals who have made a mistake get their lives back on track with a fresh, new start. If you are a first-time offender and are unsure of whether you are eligible for a first offender program, contact our office today at 817-332-7703 or online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation. We are here to help.