Pretrial Intervention, or PTI, is one of many programs that are available in SC for people charged with minor offenses, usually first-time offenders, that allow you to get your charges dismissed and expunged without going to trial.
Below, we’ll take a look at what types of criminal charges are eligible for PTI in SC, whether PTI is available for juvenile offenders, and other types of pretrial diversion programs that are available in Horry County, SC.
What is Pretrial Intervention (PTI)?
Pretrial Intervention, or PTI, is the type of pretrial diversion in SC that most people are familiar with. The PTI office in Conway, SC, is run by the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office and includes more than just PTI – it also includes AEP (the Alcohol Education Program), TEP (the Traffic Education Program), and juvenile diversion programs.
PTI – Pretrial Intervention
SC law says that PTI is appropriate when the person:
- is at least 17 years of age;
- poses no threat to the community;
- is unlikely to be arrested again;
- is someone who is likely to be rehabilitated;
- has no significant criminal history; and
- has never been through the PTI program before.
SLED (the SC Law Enforcement Division) keeps a record of every person who has completed the PTI program to ensure no one is admitted twice.
As a practical matter, you are eligible for PTI if the prosecutor says you are – if you do not have a significant prior criminal history, if your current charge is relatively minor, if the prosecutor agrees, and if any alleged victims agree, you may be able to get into the program.
PTI is not a guaranteed right, though. If the prosecutor does not think you are a good candidate for the program, or if there is an alleged victim who objects, the prosecutor can force you to court to either plead guilty or go to trial…
What are the Requirements for PTI in Horry County, SC?
If you are accepted into the PTI program, you must complete a list of requirements before you can complete the program, including:
- Reporting to the PTI office in Conway when required;
- 60 hours of community service for a non-profit organization;
- Staying drug-free and passing drug tests if required;
- Paying restitution in victim cases when required; and
- Participating in counseling or other services when required.
Once all requirements are complete, your case is dismissed, and you can apply to have all records of the arrest and prosecution expunged. If you do not complete the requirements, your case is sent back to court where you can either plead guilty or take your case to trial.
The PTI office in Conway, SC, manages other programs in addition to pretrial intervention, including programs specific to alcohol offenses, traffic offenses, and juvenile offenders.
AEP – Alcohol Education Program
The Alcohol Education Program is another program that is available for defendants who are at least 17 years old with no prior alcohol convictions and no significant prior criminal history.
What charges are eligible for AEP in Horry County?
Charges that are eligible for AEP include:
- Minor in possession of alcohol,
- Open container,
- Disorderly conduct or public intoxication, and
- Possession of a fake ID.
What are the requirements for AEP?
The requirements for AEP are not as involved as PTI, although they are still significant. To complete the AEP program, you must:
- Complete 20 hours of community service at a non-profit organization,
- Take an eight-hour alcohol education class, and
- Take a four-hour defensive driving class.
Once all requirements are complete, your case is dismissed, and you can apply to have all records of the arrest and prosecution expunged.
TEP – Traffic Education Program
Horry County also has a pretrial diversion program for traffic offenses, which requires the defendant to complete a course and community service, after which the ticket is dismissed, and the defendant can apply for an expungement.
You may be eligible for TEP if you:
- Have a valid driver’s license (but not a CDL),
- Have no significant history of traffic violations, and
- Are charged with a traffic offense that carries four points or less.
Pretrial Intervention – PTI for Teenagers
Horry County’s PTI office also runs pretrial diversion programs for juvenile offenders, including:
- JAP – Juvenile Arbitration Program,
- The CHANGE Program, and
- JDP – Juvenile Diversion Program.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, juvenile diversion programs can be a positive and productive way for a teenager accused of a crime to avoid court and to keep a clean record while staying out of jail.
Other Types of Pretrial Diversion in Horry County, SC
Pretrial Intervention and the programs run by the PTI office in Conway, SC, are not the only pretrial diversion programs that are available in SC – if you are charged with drug crimes, a conditional discharge or Drug Court may be another option that allows you to avoid a conviction and keep your record clean.
Is Drug Court right for you? Ultimately, the solicitor’s office will make that decision.
You should consider that Drug Court can be a lifeline for someone who is addicted to drugs but able to get clean and stay clean. On the other hand, it can be an easy way for the prosecutor to get a conviction and send you to prison if you cannot stay clean…
Drug Court is a lengthy and involved program that is usually offered to defendants who are charged with more serious drug offenses when the prosecutor thinks you are an appropriate candidate for the program. The requirements include:
- Attending Drug Court sessions,
- Attending substance abuse treatment and self-help meetings like Narcotics Anonymous,
- Submitting to random drug tests,
- Paying Drug Court fees, court fees, and restitution when appropriate, and
- Staying employed or enrolled as a full-time student.
It’s not exactly a pre-trial program – you plead guilty before you are accepted into the program, you are sentenced to prison, and then the sentence is “held in abeyance” until you finish the program.
If you successfully complete the program, your case is dismissed and can be expunged. If you don’t complete the program, however, you go back to court where the judge will impose your prison sentence.
Convictions for minor drug offenses can also be avoided by completing a conditional discharge. Like Drug Court, you plead guilty when you accept a conditional discharge, but your case is dismissed, and the arrest can be expunged after you complete the community service.
In the magistrate or municipal courts, where most conditional discharges happen, it is often an informal process – you complete the community service, and your attorney provides the documentation to the court. If you receive a conditional discharge in General Sessions Court, however, you may be subject to monitoring by the probation office until your community service hours are completed.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Conway, SC
If you have been charged with a crime or believe you are under investigation in SC, get a local criminal defense attorney with over twenty years of trial experience on your side as soon as possible.
Contact criminal defense Lawyer Johnny Gardner today for a free consultation to find out how we can help.