Defense Case Topics
First Offender Program
What is the First Offender Act?
What is the definition of the First Offender Actin Georgia? The First Offender Act is an alternative sentencing (diversion) that provides an opportunity for someone with no prior felony convictions in any state to complete a set of requirements and avoid having any criminal record of their offense. Anyone in the First Offender Program may still be required to pay fines and fees, complete certain types of counseling, and complete community service work.
Although the accused must agree to plead guilty, via this form of alternative sentencing the State will defer formal conviction pending the successful completion of the program. If the accused stays out of legal trouble, there will be no public criminal record of the matter.
Retroactive First Offender Statute
The retroactive first offender law allows first offender treatment to a person who previously plead guilty to a crime, and could have received this treatment, but was unaware of the first offender program.
Will First Offender Show on Background Checks?
There will be a public file but your case should not be found when doing a normal background check. Your defense lawyer can ask a judge to place your case under seal to make it nearly impossible to find.
How to Get First Offender Treatment
Hiring a top defense lawyer is the first thing you should do to increase your chances of getting this treatment. Because you have everything to gain, and a lot to lose, you really should hire a lawyer.
For a lawyer to obtain First Offender status for the accused certain requirements must be met.
- the accused cannot have any prior convictions in any state
- you cannot have previously been treated as a first offender
- the accused must accept responsibility and plead guilty to the charge(s).
The First Offender Program is not an option for anyone accused of highly egregious crimes. Charges such as rape, murder, kidnapping, sexual offenses, and similar crimes won't be treated with such leniency.
Georgia Code O.C.G.A. 42-8-60
Georgia law for fist offenders deals with probation prior to adjudication of guilt; violation of probation; and review of criminal record by judge. Specifically, it reads as follows:
- (a) Upon a verdict or plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere, but before an adjudication of guilt, in the case of a defendant who has not been previously convicted of a felony, the court may, without entering a judgment of guilt and with the consent of the defendant:
- (1) Defer further proceeding and place the defendant on probation as provided by law; or
- (2) Sentence the defendant to a term of confinement as provided by law.
- (b) Upon violation by the defendant of the terms of probation, upon a conviction for another crime during the period of probation, or upon the court determining that the defendant is or was not eligible for sentencing under this article, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and proceed as otherwise provided by law. No person may avail himself or herself of this article on more than one occasion.
- (c) The court shall not sentence a defendant under the provisions of this article and, if sentenced under the provisions of this article, shall not discharge the defendant upon completion of the sentence unless the court has reviewed the defendant's criminal record as such is on file with the Georgia Crime Information Center.
- (d) The court shall not sentence a defendant under the provisions of this article who has been found guilty of or entered a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere for:
- (1) A serious violent felony as such term is defined in Code Section 17-10-6.1;
- (2) A sexual offense as such term is defined in Code Section 17-10-6.2;
- (3) Sexual exploitation of a minor as defined in Code Section 16-12-100;
- (4) Electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor as defined in Code Section 16-12-100.1; or
- (5) Computer pornography and child exploitation, as defined in Code Section 16-12-100.2.
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime you need to contact a defense lawyer to ask about First Offender treatment. Call us at 770-956-1400 to arrange a confidential meeting to discuss your situation and get answers to your questions.