Charlotte County Implements Pre-Arrest Diversion Program

Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell is announcing the implementation of an Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program (APAD) with full participation from stakeholders in Charlotte County. This includes the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Punta Gorda Police Department, State Attorney’s Office, Office of the Public Defender, and the Charlotte County Clerk of Court.

During the 2018 legislative session, the passage of SB 1392 gave statutory authority to implement adult pre-arrest diversion programs (F.S.S. 901.41).  These programs afford law enforcement discretion to offer diversion for low-level offenses to certain adults with no prior record in order to avoid the adult obtaining an arrest record.  Participants must fulfill specified intervention obligations and community service in order to successfully complete the program. 

The intent of APAD is to limit the number of persons receiving criminal arrest records for minor offenses, as well as to provide law enforcement an alternative to in-custody arrest (provided certain criteria is met). A Coordinator within the Court Services Unit will monitor the program and offenders who enter the program.                

“The truth of the matter is that good people can make mistakes,” states Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell. “This program would allow for the adult violator of a qualifying misdemeanor to answer for their actions without the stigma of having an arrest record that could follow them their entire adult life.  This will keep qualifying individuals from going through the jail and court system, thus saving taxpayer dollars.”

Not all crimes qualify for the APAD Program. In order to qualify, the alleged crime must be a qualifying misdemeanor. Qualifying misdemeanors include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assault (Non-Domestic)
  • Battery (Non-Domestic)
  • Breach of Peace
  • Criminal Mischief (misdemeanor)
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Petit Theft/Retail Theft
  • Possession of Alcohol under 21 years of age
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Possession of Marijuana less than 20 grams
  • Trespassing
  • Violation of County Ordinance

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Intelligence Unit conducted a review of 2016 and 2017 adult arrests and Notice to Appears (NTAs) to determine the number of first time offenders whose charges would meet the requirement of the current Juvenile Civil Citation program in place with the Sheriff’s Office.

There were 481 first time adult offenders in 2016. Out of the 481 arrests, 137 (28%) of the offenders were charged with qualifying misdemeanors. 254 individuals were out of county residents, but this criteria could be looked at based on their ties to Charlotte County and their likelihood of successfully completing the APAD program. For 2017, 49 of the 148 first time bookings would have qualified for an adult civil citation.  

Roger Eaton, the Charlotte County Clerk of Court, is a stakeholder in the new program. “We look forward to working with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office to successfully implement the APAD program,” he recently stated.

Punta Gorda Police Chief Pam Davis stated that her officers are prepared to implement the program for offenders within the city limits. “The Punta Gorda Police Department is proud to partner with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and the other stakeholders of the Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program,” Chief Davis stated. “We believe that this program will ensure that first time adult offenders who commit minor offenses will be able to avoid criminal records, but will still receive swift consequences and education that will help curtail future criminal behavior. This program will also ensure that victims of crimes receive proper restoration in a timely manner.”

The Pre-Arrest Diversion Program will officially launch in Charlotte County on Saturday, June 1, of 2019.

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