Since December 12, 2007, Fulton County has designated certain non-violent felony cases to be processed expeditiously through a 9-week case management process within their “non-complex division.” In the non-complex division, “cases are monitored through timely indictment, opportunity for plea and arraignment, motions and trial. This handling of the felony non-complex calendar directly impacts the jail population, reducing length of jail stay and allowing those non-violent charges quicker resolutions, while allowing Superior Court judges to focus on managing and trying violent and more serious felony cases and other complex litigation.”
Because of this desire to resolve cases quickly, the State will often offer defendants plea offers at arraignment (very first court date). Generally speaking, a person accused of a felony should not enter a guilty plea at arraignment. This is because there has been no real opportunity to investigate the case, legal issues, and defenses. It is, however, highly suggested the person consider entering into Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) Program if offered.
What is PTI?
PTI is a diversion program, which is essentially a contract between the person accused and the State. On one end of the contract the person agrees to perform certain conditions (usually community service, counseling, classes, a program fee, clean drug screens, etc.). If the person successfully completes these conditions within the set period of time, the State then agrees to not prosecute (or dismiss) the case.
In Fulton County Non-Complex cases, the assigned District Attorney (prosecutor) makes the decision whether to offer PTI. If offered and accepted, the case then goes to a coordinator with the PTI program and is temporarily removed from the Court’s docket. All communication and performance of the program goes through the diversion coordinator.
If offered and the person does not accept, the person has to decide whether to plead guilty or go to trial. Similarly, if you accept PTI, but for whatever reason, are removed from the PTI program, your case will be then placed back on the trial calendar. The benefit here is that removal from the program will not cause a guilty plea to go into effect. As a result, entering into PTI is a low risk high reward opportunity. A person may be removed for missing meetings, failing drug screens, or failure to communicate generally.
Your Criminal History and What to Ask For
The benefit of PTI is that your case is dismissed upon successful completion. Ideally, your record should also automatically be restricted. A record restriction will prevent the general public from seeing the dismissed case on a background check through GCIC. A non-restricted record will show an arrest for the crime and that the crime was ultimately dismissed. Therefore, if you are offered PTI in Fulton Non-Complex, you want to ensure the prosecutor and PTI coordinator understand and agree in writing to an automatic record restriction. If this is not a written part of the PTI agreement, you will have to apply for record restriction yourself after completion of the PTI program.
An experienced attorney can assist you in obtaining a PTI offer, explaining the terms, and successfully completing the PTI program. If you or someone you know has been arrested, contact the law firm of W. Scott Smith at 404.581.0999 for afree case evaluation. You’ll find a local Attorney ready to aggressively fight on your behalf.