April 1, 2015
Reductions in Charge and Substitutions of Charge
As mentioned in the Diversion section,, the Florida State Attorney’s Office is politically motivated to obtain convictions. Therefore, their goal is not to reduce or substitute lesser charges. Reductions and substitutions are most likely to occur when:
- The case for the State of Florida has ‘proof problems’
- The defendant has no prior record (First Offender Diversion Programs)
- If there is a ‘victim’ in the case (for example a theft or a battery as opposed to a Fleeing and Attempting to Elude charge), that the victim does not object
The State is extremely resistant to reductions and substitutions for certain charges such as DUI and sex offenses. This does not mean that they do not occur, but it does mean that obtaining a reduction is more difficult.
NOTE: The fact that the ‘victim’ does not want to prosecute is not enough, by itself, to get charges ‘dropped’ by the State. Florida law states that it is the public policy of the State of Florida to prosecute even when the ‘victim’ opposes prosecution. However, the State Attorney’s Office may give great weight to a ‘victim’s preference and this can be used in negotiations. Do not attempt this on your own: You could wind up with witness tampering charges.
First Offender Diversion Programs are one of the rare instances where the legal system “gets it” in the best possible sense of the phrase. However, that being said, it is often critical that such programs avoid “one size fits all” counseling and mental health treatment programs. The diagnostic protocol of “what is your charge” = “[Charge Name] counseling” is not recognized by any reputable psychiatric or psychological association. Any mental health or substance abuse treatment mandated by any diversion program should always be custom tailored to the needs of the person entering into any First Offender Diversion Program – because that is what actually works.