Ok, so you have recently been arrested. You are nervous, anxious, and do not know what is going to happen next. We see many clients in this situation and they often ask us the most important question..."Am I going to have to go to jail?"
The answer is not so clear cut for a first time offender. Most first time offenders DO NOT end up serving any jail time. Of course, this depends on the severity of the offense. However, in cases of the most common of criminal offenses: theft, possession of drugs, battery, assault, trespass, burglary, domestic violence, prostitution, etc. the chances are that you will not go to jail.
If you and your attorney decide to resolve the case and not go to trial, in most cases, a first time offender (especially misdemeanor) case, can usually expect that the state attorney will offer them a pretrial diversion program or probation to close out the case without the requirement of going to jail. If however, you are put on probation and violate your probation, there is a greater chance that you will be required to serve at least some time in jail. Jail is a facility where you are sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment of less than a year. If you violate a felony probation, there is a chance that you may be sentenced to state prison. Prison is where you are sent if you are to serve a term of imprisonment over a year.
A first time offender who successfully completes a pretrial diversion program will typically qualify to have their record expunged after completion of the program. If you take a plea as a first time offender, it is CRITICAL that you DO NOT accept a plea that involves an ADJUDICATION OF GUILT if you want to be able to later seal your record. Also, it is important to be aware that there are some offenses that cannot be sealed even if you receive a withhold of adjudication. So, before you accept any plea that involves a withhold of adjudication, make sure that your attorney is able to tell you whether or not you will be able to seal that case. Many attorneys believe that if you receive a withhold of adjudication that you will automatically be able to seal your case after your complete probation or whatever court obligations you have. That is simply not true. Be careful.
If you have an questions as to whether or not you will be able to seal or expunge your first time arrest case, please feel free to ask our attorneys.