Punta Gorda Police seeks to implement pre-arrest diversion program

Published: April 17, 2019 12:18 PM EDT
Updated: April 17, 2019 5:55 PM EDT

The Punta Gorda Police Department is seeking approval to launch a pre-arrest diversion program, to educate first time offenders.

The Punta Gorda City Council would need to approve a Memorandum of Understanding to move forward with the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD).

The Police Department says it wants to “partner with the Sheriff, State Attorney, Clerk of Court and Public Defender to establish a diversion program aimed at educating first time adult offenders of minor offenses in Charlotte County.”

They say certain minor offenses often result from errors in judgment or mistakes and can adversely affect one’s ability to gain employment, serve in the military, attend academic institution, or otherwise create a barrier to individual accomplishment.

PGPD says in the memorandum:  Pre-arrest diversion programs are a best practice in law enforcement and authorized under state law.

We sat down with criminal defense attorneys who explained the pros and cons of this type of program:

Cons:

  1. If you Don’t complete the program you have an admission of guilt in your name that can be used against you.
  2. The decision is made at the time of the arrest, and it doesn’t give defendants much time to seek council.
  3. Most first-time offenders don’t go to jail for more than a night for the small offenses (misdemeanors) that are being listed, so it’s not like it would save taxpayers a lot of money in that sense. If anything, taxpayers will have to pay for the program to run.

Pros:

  1. If you complete the program your record is wiped clean.
  2. Saves defendants money on attorney costs.