The Wrong Perspective
But pleading not guilty doesn’t necessarily mean innocent. It may be more appropriate to think of a plea of not guilty really meaning a plea of not proven. When a plea of not guilty is entered, you are requiring the state to reveal the evidence (or lack thereof) that the government intends to use against you. A plea of not guilty will also allow you to consult with a criminal defense attorney tor review your options.
Entering a Guilty Plea
A consultation with a knowledgeable defense lawyer is the best way to truly get all of your questions answered and make sure you understand the direct consequences of entering a guilty plea.
A Plea Deal
You may also be eligible for a diversion program. This allows you to avoid conviction if you meet certain conditions.
For example, in the state of Florida, we have the Misdemeanor Pretrial Diversion Program (PDP). This offers “qualified misdemeanor offenders an alternative to formal criminal prosecution.”
Each participant signs a contract with the State of Florida which waives their right to a speedy trial, and in which they agree to comply with the program requirements and perform specific sanctions. Participants are normally supervised six (6) months to twelve (12) months depending upon the offense. In return for successful completion of the program and listed sanctions, the State agrees to drop the participant's criminal charges in that specific case, which enables them to avoid a conviction and ultimately a criminal record. All referrals to Misdemeanor PDP must originate with a recommendation by the Office of the State Attorney.
An attorney will be able to advise you on how to follow through with a diversion program and whether or not it is necessary.