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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
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Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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I was cited for violating Florida Statute 562.11 (age 22) and

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I was cited for violating Florida Statute 562.11 (age 22) and my sister (age 18) was cited for violating Florida statute 562.111 at a tailgating event. Being the first offense for both of us, what can we expect at the court appearance? I understand that there is the possibility of a diversion class that can be taken for my sister to expunge the charge, is there anything I can do to expunge the charge for me? Is there any significant impact to having a lawyer present at the court appearance?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 5 years ago.
Hello there:

Thank you for entrusting me with your question. At the first court appearance, the only thing that happens is the defendant enters a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, the defendant is sentenced. If the initial plea is "not guilty", a new court date is set and the progress toward trial begins.

For a first offense, diversion is the normal plea bargain offered by the prosecution; only if the circumstances were exceptionally offensive would it not be offered.

Unfortunately, if there is either a conviction or a diversion, the offense ordinarily cannot be expunged from an adult's record. However, a diversion is somewhat different from a conviction in that you can lawfully say that you have never been convicted of the crime in most employment and school applications since it technically is not a conviction. Law enforcement will know that it happened, so it is not truly expunged, but the impact is pretty minimal.

Lawyers do not have any magic powers--they can ensure that your rights are protected. In some cases it will have no effect on the outcome, but in other cases it will have a huge impact on the outcome. Personally, I think that any criminal matter more significant than a traffic violation warrants involving legal counsel. The good news is that if there is nothing that can be done, the cost will be relatively minimal.

I understand that you may have follow-up questions. Let me know if further clarification is needed. Thank you.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank yo for the advice, One follow up question. Should we plead no contest and if we do not have a lawyer present will there be a different process?
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 5 years ago.
Like most criminal defense attorneys, I never recommend pleading anything other than "not guilty" at the first court appearance because you haven't even seen what evidence the prosecution has against you or actually received the plea bargain offer yet. You may want to plead "no contest" eventually, but what is the hurry?

The process is not different if you have an attorney.

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