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How Can Being a First-Time Offender Affect Your Case and Penalties?


Understandably, offenders who have been arrested for the very first time will feel terrified and uncertain of what the future holds. Many mistakenly assume that they will have no choice but to plead guilty and hope for leniency because they don’t have a criminal record. 

But if convicted of a crime you are allegedly guilty of, you could face imprisonment, costly fines, and community service, among other penalties and requirements that come with your sentence. However, an arrest and criminal conviction aren’t mutually exclusive. Furthermore, being a first-time offender can work in your favor.

Options Available for First-Time Offenders in Texas

First-time offenders may avoid imprisonment by participating in programs created specifically for first-time offenders. These programs are intended to rehabilitate offenders, decrease jail overcrowding, and prevent recidivism. Generally, they require participants to undergo routine drug testing and participate in treatment, probation, or classes.

Qualifying for these programs is typically dependent on the specific crime the defendant committed and whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor. These programs include the following:

  • Pretrial Diversion Program – Once a first-time offender has completed this program, their charges may be dropped, and they can request the expunction of their criminal record. This is only available for first-time offenders charged with nonviolent misdemeanors.
  • Intervention – This involves a lawyer intervening with the prosecution before formal charges are filed. Your San Antonio criminal defense lawyer may argue that you made a one-time lapse in judgment and that you don’t have prior arrests. The prosecution may reduce or drop the charges depending on your specific situation.
  • Specialty Courts – Usually reserved for non-violent offenders with an alcohol or drug problem, this involves a specialty court hearing the case, community service, and rehabilitation classes instead of jail time.
  • Deferred Adjudication – This involves agreeing to a plea deal and probation. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the case may be dismissed, and the defendant can request non-disclosure later.

The most serious criminal offenses are felonies. The penalty range for felonies is diverse and harsh, from 180 days in jail to life imprisonment and very hefty fines. Fortunately, there’s hope for first-time drug offenders who have been charged with a felony. This felony pretrial diversion program usually involves restitution, counseling, and community service, among others.

Seek Legal Guidance From a Top San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyer

Whether or not you are facing criminal charges as a first-time offender in Texas, do not go to court and expect leniency from the prosecutor in charge of your case. It’s recommended to obtain legal advice as soon as you can to help secure the best possible results with the fewest consequences and penalties.

You need to work with a competent and experienced San Antonio criminal defense lawyer who is capable of weighing the evidence against you and the specific circumstances of your case to figure out the best way to proceed. To learn more about the most suitable options for your case, get in touch with Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC by calling 210-222-9132 or filling out our online form to arrange an appointment with our San Antonio criminal defense lawyer.