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This is my First Arrest. Will the Judge go Easy on Me?

First Arrests in Texas

People are arrested in Texas every day. For many of these people, being arrested is a new and confusing experience. If they have never been arrested before, they will probably have a lot of questions. They may wonder:

  • Am I going to jail?
  • Will the judge go easy on me?
  • Will this be on my record forever?

It’s hard to give definite answers to these questions because every case is different. In fact, each judge can be different so there’s really no way to accurately predict the outcome of each case.

However, first-time offenders may actually be more likely to get some leniency from the judge. They are in a unique situation and there may be some benefits to that.

Advantages for First-Time Offenders

Rather than saying that all first-time offenders will have advantages in court, it may be more accurate to say that first-time offenders have a better shot at leniency than repeat offenders.

However, for some crimes, very little leniency can be expected. This includes crimes like:

Many drug trafficking offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences. This means that, even if the defendant has never broken the law before, a conviction for one of these offenses can lead to automatic prison time and fines.

Additionally, murder charges are not generally met with leniency, even if the defendant has never committed a crime before.

Some advantages for first-time offenders of minor crimes include:

  • Drug court
  • Pre-filing intervention
  • Increased chance of deferred adjudication
  • Better plea bargain terms

While these options are not guaranteed to all first-time offenders, they are listed because first-time offenders generally will have a better chance of getting these benefits.

What Is Drug Court?

For many first-time drug offenders, drug court or diversionary court may be an option. Drug court gives non-violent, first-time low-level drug offenders the chance to avoid jail time and a permanent criminal record.

In many cases, these low-level offenders will be ordered to serve a period of supervised probation. During this probation, they may be required to complete community service tasks, meet with a probation officer, attend rehab or drug education classes and submit to random drug tests. If they complete all of these requirements without committing another offense or violating the terms of their probation, they may be successfully discharged.

A successful discharge from drug court could mean that the defendant’s criminal record could be expunged or sealed. This will allow them more job opportunities in the future.

What Is Pre-Filing Intervention?

In some cases, a first-time offender who committed a very minor offense may be able to avoid charges altogether. This can occur if the defendant’s lawyer meets with the court after the defendant has been arrested but before charges are filed. If the meeting goes well, the prosecution could consider the defendant’s family life, good character and lack of previous offenses. This may lead to the charges being thrown out or it may lead the prosecutor to offer less severe charges.

What Is Deferred Adjudication?

First-time offenders may be more likely to be granted deferred adjudication. In a deferred adjudication case, the court withholds a conviction in return for the defendant’s plea of guilty or no contest. The defendant will then be placed on supervised probation. If the defendant successfully completes the probation term without committing another offense or committing a violation, the court can release them from probation.

They may then be eligible to obtain an order of non-disclosure, which can prevent potential employers from finding out about their court case.

What Is Plea Bargaining?

A plea bargain is an agreement between the court and the defendant. In this agreement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a charge rather than going to trial. In return for avoiding the time and expense of a trial, the court will offer the defendant a reduced or altered sentence.

This means that the defendant could avoid jail time and only be required to pay fines and serve probation.

First-time offenders may be more likely to obtain favorable plea bargain terms. Courts may be less likely to offer favorable plea bargains to repeat offenders with long criminal histories.

Will The Judge Go Easy On Me?

In reality, it’s impossible to say how a judge will react to any particular case. However, first-time offenders who are charged with low-level offenses may stand a much better chance at leniency than repeat offenders may.

It’s important for first-time offenders to hire an attorney. Attempting to represent yourself in court can decrease any chances at leniency. An attorney may have strategies for negotiating with the court while emphasizing the defendant’s lack of a criminal history. If successful, this could lead to dropped or reduced charges.


Attorney Matt Sharp Can Help

If you have been arrested for the first time, please contact us. We will fight hard to protect your rights and your future. Call (713) 868-6100 or email for your free and confidential consultation.

Photo courtesy of cityoflafayettega.com

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