First Time Offender Programs in Tennessee

If you have been charged with a first-time offense, you may be wondering what Tennessee’s first time offender program is all about and whether you are eligible. The criminal defense attorneys at Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law in Murfreesboro are experienced and knowledgeable, providing counsel to those facing criminal charges and advocating for the best possible outcome in each case.

What is a “first offender” program?

First offender programs provide a way for defendants to avoid full criminal prosecution. Available to first time offenders — or those with no previous criminal record or felony conviction — they allow a defendant to keep the conviction off their record by completing the first offender program.

Diversion in Tennessee

Tennessee offers first offender programs in the form of diversion: judicial diversion and pretrial diversion. Judicial diversion permits a charge to be diverted for an agreed upon length of time once the defendant pleads guilty and agrees to the conditions stated by the judge. Upon successful completion of the diversionary period, the defendant can then ask the court to submit an Order of Expungement to have the charge (or charges) removed from his or her criminal record.

In a pretrial diversion – also known as a suspended prosecution – the defendant has not yet pled guilty or been found guilty. Pretrial diversion may be granted if all the statutory requirements are met, and they meet the terms that are agreed upon with the District Attorney. If the defendant does not meet the agreed upon terms, the prosecution of the case is no longer suspended and the case may go to trial.

Eligibility for diversion

Defendants may be eligible for diversion in the state of Tennessee if they meet the following requirements:

  • Defendant has not been granted pretrial diversion previously
  • Defendant does not have a previous misdemeanor conviction for which a sentence of confinement was served
  • Defendant does not have a felony conviction within five years of completing the sentence or probationary program for the prior conviction
  • The offense for which the prosecution is being suspended is not a Class A, Class B or Class C felony, a sexual offense, driving under the influence of an intoxicant offense, a sexual offense, or vehicular assault

Defendants are disqualified from the diversion if they have ever had a conviction for a Class A misdemeanor or higher.

Contact our Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyers if you are facing criminal charges for the first time

Criminal charges should be taken seriously. They have an immediate effect on your day-to-day life, and can have a lasting impact on your life in the form of a criminal record. If you are a first time offender, you may be eligible for Tennessee’s first time offender program, offering some kind of diversion of the charges. The laws and statues governing diversions are complex; don’t leave your future to chance. The skilled Murfreesboro criminal defense attorneys at Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law are experienced in all aspects of criminal law. Contact us today at 615-890-1982 or online to arrange for a free consultation to discuss your eligibility for a first-offender program.