The first-time offender’s guide to dealing with criminal charges


Making mistakes is part of life and it’s the mistakes that teach us the most. And as some philosophers say it, if you aren’t making a mistake, you aren’t doing much. But, one shouldn’t confuse mistakes with committing crimes. Being charged for a crime is an anxious and stressful moment in any person’s life, specifically for the first time offenders. The daunting experience brings along concerns about their future – chances to get a good school or job, pursuing their career goals and also the outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Fortunately, the law is less severe for first-time offenders, unless the crime is serious. Here’s a legal guide that could be helpful for these unprecedented times.

  1. Are you being considered as a first-time offender?

First things first, it is important to know if you are being charged as a first-timer. And this means that you don’t have any previous convictions. Speeding and parking violations and misdemeanour are not considered criminal convictions. However, anything else that the law considered criminal, qualifies as a conviction. Therefore, discuss and confirm this with your lawyer.

  1. Your behaviour is important

There is no doubt that facing criminal charges and defending oneself is a stressful situation. But, it is more important than ever, to keep your behaviour and emotions in check, If you come out as offensive, violent, uncooperative or unapologetic to the jury, things can get out of hand really soon.

Hence, you should try to maintain your calm and cooperate with the authorities through the processes. And you would have your chance to present your side and use your rights.

  1. What are your options for minor offences?

Minor offences or non-violent crimes like theft, fraud, using a controlled substance like drugs, embezzlement or traffic violations can be easy to deal with. Unless these crimes have serious implications, and you are a first-time offender, you could be eligible for pretrial intervention programs or rehabilitation sessions.

In such cases, you can plea for the charges to be dismissed and you undergo the program. With a precondition that you will complete the program and don’t intend to repeat the actions. This means, that the defendant gets a clean slate with no criminal record against them.

  1. How to handle more severe cases?

Low-level felonies like assault, battery, burglary, domestic violence etc. are taken more seriously by the law. And it is a little harder to expect the court to let you walk without any implications. In such criminal proceedings, the outcomes are driven by several factors. The key focus in such situations is to get the jury to be lenient of the sentencing and to reduce the offence to a less severe one. Or to get them expunged with community, fines etc.

First-time offences can be really exhausting and frustrating, and people end up making mistakes that can complicate the case further. Therefore, it is essential to consult a lawyer with your legal matters. The lawyers at Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law have years of experience dealing with first-time offences and helping people through.

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