Understanding the Federal First Offenders Act

 Posted on December 00, 0000 in Federal Crimes

Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyerIf you have been arrested for a federal crime, you know what a scary thing it is. You are likely envisioning the worst possible outcome, spending years of your life in federal prison. However, this is not always the case. In the United States, there is a program that allows first offenders a chance to avoid jail time. This program cannot only eliminate the possibility of jail time altogether, but it can also help you escape the possibility of having a criminal record for your entire life.

So, what is this program? It is the Federal First Offenders Act (FFOA), and anyone charged with a federal crime needs to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney that can review their case and determine if they are eligible.

The Basics of the Federal First Offenders Act

The FFOA is a probation program designed to help rehabilitate first-time offenders rather than punish them. As the name of the Act states, only those facing charges for the first time are eligible for the program. Upon entering into the program, the accused is placed on probation for a certain amount of time.

At the end of that probation period, individuals can have their charges dismissed. No conviction is entered and so, they have no criminal record. In some instances, the arrest and other details pertaining to the case are also expunged. This makes it as though the case never happened and no one can access the records of the case.

Qualifying for the Program

Unfortunately, not all first offenders are eligible for FFOA. In order to start the probation period under FFOA, a person must:

  • Be found guilty of possession of a controlled substance;
  • Not have a prior conviction for violating a federal or state law involving a controlled substance; and
  • Not been offered treatment as a first offender under any federal or state program.

In addition to these qualifications, a court must also enter an order in accordance with a rehabilitative statute under which the criminal proceedings are deferred, or tolled until a later date.

Offenses Involving a Controlled Substance

When an individual is convicted of a criminal offense involving any of the substances in the Controlled Substance Act, the courts can place them on probation for a time period of less than one year without entering a judgment. If the individual does not violate any of the conditions of their probation, the court could then release the person from probation and dismiss the proceedings and charges against the person. In instances in which the individual is under the age of 21, the courts may even expunge the individual’s record of the offense. This will remove it from public record.

It is very important that anyone entering into the FFOA program understands that if they do violate the conditions of their probation, the courts can then impose a sentence on them. When this happens, they can face the same penalties that they would have if they had not been placed on probation.

Want to Learn More About FFOA? Speak to an Illinois Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a federal crime, you could be eligible for entering the FFOA program. A dedicated Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer can explain all of your options to you. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel, we want to help you with your case and help you achieve the best possible outcome. Call us today at 312-629-0669 or fill out our online form for your free case evaluation.


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