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How Being a First Time Offender Affects Penalties


First-time offenders are people who have never been convicted of a crime before. They also usually don’t have prior criminal records. If you’re in this exact situation right now or think that you might soon be, you are probably scared and confused about what happens next.

For most first-time offenders, their main concerns are whether or not they will be imprisoned if they get convicted and what penalties they may receive. They may also be worried about community service requirements, probation, hefty fines, and how having a criminal record might affect their future.

If you’re facing a criminal charge for the very first time, your Texas criminal defense attorney will know what to do to secure lesser penalties for you than if you were a repeat offender.

The Court May Be Lenient If You Are a First-Time Offender

There are different ways that being a first-time offender may affect your case. If you don’t have a prior criminal history, it’s highly likely that you will receive a lighter sentence and related penalties. However, keep in mind that if you’re facing a charge that is considered violent or serious, being a first-time offender will not really do much for your case. In such cases, the court must evaluate the circumstances of the specific case and the exact nature and severity of the offense to determine the most appropriate sentence to hand out.

Likewise, first-time offenders who have committed non-violent felonies or misdemeanors but have clean records may qualify for first-time offender programs. Take note, however, that failing to comply with all the requirements of the program will most certainly invalidate the lenient sentence.

For instance, committing another offense or refusing any terms of the lighter sentence could jeopardize the offender’s participation in the program. In most cases, this results in the offender facing the full punishment for the alleged crime.

Options for Leniency For First-Time Offenders

Depending on your circumstances, the following leniency options may be available to you:

  • Plea bargaining for probation, community service, or participation in a first-time offender program instead of incarceration.
  • Specialty courts, like drug courts, where convictions may not lead to severe punishments as they might in other venues. Specialty courts usually favor rehabilitative penalties, such as counseling, substance abuse education classes, and community service.
  • Pretrial intervention, or other types of deferred adjudication, which requires the completion of a program before the offender’s case can be dismissed.

Typically, offenders can qualify for these leniency options when they plead guilty. But whether a plea deal would be right for you would depend on your specific situation.

Reach Out to an Experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Now

Facing a criminal charge for the very first time in your life can be especially intimidating and scary if you’ve never gotten in trouble with the law before. Fortunately, the court may grant you some leniency, depending on the charge that you’re facing. Find out more about your case by calling Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC at 210-222-9132 or reaching us online to schedule your case review with our Texas criminal defense attorney.