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Can First Time Offenses be Deferred?

Being charged with a crime is scary, but there are instances when you may be able to defer the charge and avoid a conviction.

Every year, thousands of people are arrested and many of them have never been in this situation before. Being arrested or charged with a crime is very scary and if it happens to you, it is normal to have concerns about your future. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent one mistake from affecting your future. Our Atlanta criminal defense lawyer can explain what those are, and help you retain your freedom.

Georgia’s First Offender Act

Under the First Offender Act in Georgia, a deferred adjudication allows first time offenders to avoid conviction and the harsh penalties associated with it. To qualify for this option, you do not have to be considered a first offender. However, you cannot have a felony conviction on your criminal record.

Even if you have prior misdemeanor convictions on your record, you can still be sentenced under the First Offender Act if you are charged with a felony in the future. If you have previous misdemeanor charges on your record and you are charged with another misdemeanor, you can also be sentenced under the First Offender Act.

You do have to enter a guilty plea if you want to pursue a deferred adjudication but legally, you have not yet been convicted of a crime. You will then be sentenced, which is usually a term of probation for a period of time, although jail or prison time is also a possibility. If you successfully complete the terms of the sentence, the judge will enter an order of discharge without adjudication of guilt. Essentially, this means that your case is dismissed without a conviction.

What Criminal Offenses are Eligible for Deferred Adjudication?

The majority of criminal offenses in Georgia are eligible for sentencing under the First Offender Act. Still, there are some that are specifically excluded. Any misdemeanor is eligible for deferred adjudication, with the exception of driving under the influence (DUI). A conviction for a DUI will remain on your criminal record for the remainder of your life.

Almost every sexual criminal offense is also ineligible for deferred adjudication. The only exceptions to this are statutory rape, depending on the age of the person charged, and sexual battery if it is a first lifetime offense. Serious violent felonies, such as armed robbery, murder, kidnapping, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, and aggravated child molestation are also ineligible for deferred sentencing.

Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Atlanta Can Help with Your Deferred Sentence

A deferred sentence can greatly help you retain your freedom, but there are very specific conditions you must meet. At Ghanayem & Rayasam, our Atlanta criminal defense lawyer can advise on what those are and give you the best chance of getting your charges dismissed. Call us today at (404) 561-0202 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help.