When someone is charged with a crime in South Carolina, and it is their first offense, they may be eligible to enter the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. This program allows people to avoid jail time and a traditional prosecution. You do not have to plead guilty in order to enter it.
If you have been charged with a crime in Rock Hill or a surrounding community, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, can review your case in a free consultation. We will help you to determine whether you are eligible for participation in the PTI program. We can also help you to determine whether it is the right fit for you.
What Is the Pre-Trial Intervention Program?
The Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program is a diversionary program in South Carolina. Participants can avoid imprisonment if they meet a number of requirements such as paying restitution and performing community service. The program’s focus is on rehabilitation – not discipline. The PTI program also allows individuals to avoid a criminal prosecution.
The program is available only to first-time offenders. As stated above, to be eligible for the PTI program, you do not have to plead guilty. Once you enter the program, you cannot enroll in it again. The program typically takes about 90 days to complete. However, depending on the nature and severity of the charges against you, it may take longer.
Many people are relieved to hear that they qualify for the PTI program. However, upon entering it, they realize how strict the guidelines are. After all, you must meet numerous requirements. If you fail to meet those requirements, you can be removed from the program.
Do You Qualify for the PTI Program?
The Solicitor’s Office has sole discretion to decide who can enter the PTI program. Prosecutors make those decisions on a case-by-case basis. If you face certain criminal charges, you will not be eligible for the program. Those offenses include:
- DUAC or DUI
- A traffic offense that is punishable only by fine or points taken from a license
- Certain fish, game, and wildlife offenses
- Violent crimes.
Upon referral to PTI, you must complete an application. Along with the application, you must submit all information relating to your pending charge(s). You must also pay an application fee of $100.
Unfortunately, even if you are referred to PTI, your acceptance into the program is not guaranteed. It can take as long as eight weeks until you learn about your acceptance. If that amount of time has passed, and you still haven’t heard about your status, you should consult with your attorney from McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC.
If you are accepted into the PTI program, you must agree to meet several requirements, including:
- If applicable, paying restitution to the victims of your crime(s)
- Paying all participation fees after you learn of your acceptance into the program
- Keeping all appointments with personnel in the program, including attending mandatory classes and courses
- Refraining from engaging in any further criminal activity
- Submitting to random drug testing
- Completing all other assignments required by the director of the PTI program.
If you meet these requirements, a court will dismiss the criminal charges against you. In other words, you will not have to go to trial. Also, you will have no conviction on your record. As part of the PTI process, you may even elect to have the record of your arrest expunged upon completion.
What Happens If You Are Not Accepted into the PTI Program?
The PTI program can be beneficial for those that have been charged with a first-time offense. It can allow you to retain your freedom. It can also allow you to retain your employment and other career and educational opportunities. However, the reality is that not everyone gets accepted into the program.
If the PTI program rejects your application, your case will start all over. In other words, you will be in the same position that you were in before you applied to the program. You could face a trial and a possible conviction. Any conviction will also carry a permanent criminal record that could restrict them from certain career and educational opportunities in the future.
Likewise, not everyone accepted into the program successfully completes it. For example, you could fail a random drug test or fail to pay restitution on schedule. If you fail to meet all requirements, your case will proceed as though you had never entered the program. Again, you could face a conviction and its many direct and collateral consequences.
Too many people wait to hear that their application to the PTI program has been denied before they speak to an attorney. That is a mistake. Anyone accused of a crime should reach out to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, before even applying to PTI.
How Can Our Rock Hill Criminal Defense Law Firm Help You?
If you have been charged with a crime, you should speak to one of our Rock Hill criminal defense lawyers right way. At McKinney, Tucker & Lemel, LLC, we can review your case and determine if you are eligible for the PTI program. We can also consult with you about whether the program is the right option for you to pursue based on your circumstances. You can count on us to provide straightforward, honest advice, with no sugar-coating.
If you are eligible for the PTI program, we will present arguments to the Solicitor’s Office establishing that you deserve a referral and, ultimately, acceptance into the program. We can also help you to get through the application process.
Regardless of whether you are accepted or denied, we can handle the rest of your case every step of the way by preparing a solid defense or monitoring you to ensure you meet all program requirements. To learn more, contact us today for a free evaluation of your case through our Rock Hill office.
Gary C. Lemel is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University School of Law who has deep background as a criminal defense attorney in Rock Hill. Over the course of his career, he has handled everything from traffic violations to death penalty litigation. His current practice spans multiple counties and focuses on cases involving driving under the influence, drug charges and high-level felonies. He also serves on the board of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and as a member of the South Carolina Bar’s Judicial Qualifications Committee and Public Defender Standards Committee.