As a criminal defense lawyer it's my duty to help push my client thru the criminal justice system by making sure that the outcome achieved is the best possible under the circumstances. The system is unforgiving and often unfair with the results not always tied to actual guilt nor innocence. Not every client is innocent nor is every client even honest, yet every client has a right to expect the best possible solution when confronting an allegation of criminal conduct.
The best outcome in any criminal case is to persuade the State Attorney's office in Clearwater not to file the case. Once the prosecutors make a decision to "no file" a charge the case is effectively finished unless new evidence of guilt is uncovered. Nor is there any punishment, restitution nor court supervision. If there has been an arrest, then it may be possible - though it's unlikely - to even recover civil damages for the false arrest if it can be established that the arrest was improperly made.
If the the State Attorney's Office does file felony or misdemeanor criminal charges, then the next best opportunity to salvage one's reputation and freedom is to have the criminal case dismissed. If the victim, the arresting officer and the state attorney have no objection, then it may be possible to apply for the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, which is one of the five best ways to have criminal charges dismissed or reduced in Florida.
To successfully apply the defendant must have no prior record of misconduct and complete a probationary period after which the criminal charge is dismissed by the judge. This is an effective tool to dismiss nonviolent charges such as petit theft, grand theft, embezzlement and drug charges such as marijuana or cocaine possession. The program can also be used for case dismissal in some minor crimes that do involve a limited amount of violence such as simple battery, aggravated assault and domestic battery. More violent crimes such as aggravated battery or attempted murder would not be within the prevue of the program.
A new program is being tested in Florida, but has not yet reached the Tampa Bay Area that effectively decriminalize small quantities of drugs and other nonviolent crimes such as theft with civil citation programs.