Tarrant County Alternatives to Incarceration or Traditional Probation
In 2015, Tarrant County introduced two new programs that offer an alternative to prison or jail time. These two programs are Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP) and First Offender Drug Program (FODP). DPP is a program run by the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office while FODP is a program under the supervision of a Tarrant County court. Both DPP and FODP are designed to help offenders keep their record clean and avoid jail or prison. Completing some of these programs are the best possible way to handle your criminal case, because you may be eligible to expunge your records sooner than a regular “dismissal.”
Tarrant County Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP)
Under the Deferred prosecution Program, run by the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, an offender is eligible for expunction of their record as soon as they complete DPP. An offender must apply for this program within 60 days of a case being filed with the District Attorney’s Office. To be eligible, a person must be between the ages of 17 and 24 years old at the time of the alleged offense, with an offense date on or after June 15, 2015. Some other qualifications include:
- No previous juvenile adjudication
- Not a member of mental health priority population
- Negative drug screen with application
- No previous conviction or supervision for Class B offenses and above
- No prior participation in DPP
- Multiple offenses occurring out of more than one criminal episode
- No subsequent offenses committed after first arrest or while on bond
- No one was injured or placed in danger during course of offense
- Not gang related offense(s)
The application is available online at the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s website. DPP lasts 8 months for those charged with a felony offense and only 4 months for a person facing a misdemeanor. DPP provides two tracks—Track A and Track B—depending on the charged offense. A person charged with a Track A offense will be charged $125 for entry into the program, with $25 due when the application is submitted and $100 due at orientation. A Track B offense will cost $225.
|DPP Track A||DPP Track B|
|Possession, Manufacture, Distribution of Instrument to Commit Retail Theft||Possession of Marihuana under 2 Ounces—including Drug Free Zone|
|Labeling Unauthorized Record||Possession of Marihuana 2-4 Ounces—including Drug Free Zone|
|Theft & Theft of Service under $20,000||Possession of Controlled Substance (PG3) under 28 Grams—including Drug Free Zone|
|Unlawful Use of Motor Vehicle||Possession of Controlled Substance (PG2A) under 2 Ounces|
|Fraudulent Use or Possession of Identifying Info under 5 items||Possession of Controlled Substance (PG2A) under 1 Gram|
|Silent or Abusive Phone Calls||Possession of a Dangerous Drug|
|Burglary (Vehicle, Building, Coin Operated Machine)||Possession of a Controlled Substance (PG1) under 1 gram|
|Credit & Debit Card Abuse|
|Criminal Mischief under $20,000|
|Remove, Destroy, Concealment of Writing|
|Evading Arrest (excludes vehicle or injury cases)|
|Failure to Identify|
|Graffiti under $20,000|
|Tampering with Governmental Record|
|Failure to Stop at Accident|
|Furnish or Purchase Alcohol for a Minor|
|False Report to Police|
|Trademark counterfeiting under $20,000|
|*Contact a Tarrant County Criminal Defense Attorney for Most Up-to-Date List
First Offender Drug Program (FODP)
FODP is a court program, but works like the DPP program. A first-time offender facing certain drug offenses can apply for this program regardless of age. An application must be submitted within 90 days of a case being filed with the DA’s Office. FODP lasts 6 months for felony offenses and only 90 days for those charged with a misdemeanor. If a person successfully completes FODP, they are eligible for an expunction 1 year after completion.
Primary Mission and Purpose:
“To improve the overall quality and efficiency of the criminal courts by diverting low risk/low needs first-time drug offenders to a court-supervised program that will enhance public safety, reduce crime, hold offenders accountable, increase sobriety among drug offenders, reduce costs to our community, and ultimately reduce congestion in the criminal court dockets.”
Drug cases make up a large part of the Tarrant County criminal court docket. Most people with these charges do not deserve or need to be imprisoned or put on long probations. So, the courts and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office have put together the First Offender Drug Program for misdemeanor and felony drug charges. The program is meant to help improve efficiency in the courts and justice system by quickly and effectively addressing drug charges that are not likely to lead to future criminal problems. The courts do this by “diverting” these people into the First Offender Program. The program is court-supervised and meant to reduce crime, hold drug offenders accountable, increase sobriety among drug offenders, reduce costs to our community, and ultimately reduce congestion in the criminal court dockets. The good news for you: the program lets you get your case dismissed and later expunged if you complete it successfully. So, talk to the lawyer defending your drug charge to learn about whether you can get into the first time offender program.
Which Drug Charges can get into the program?
The list below was updated in July 2017. The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office changes the list from time to time. You need to speak with your criminal defense attorney about whether your drug charge may be eligible for this first time drug offender program based on a deferred prosecution agreement. Remember, just because your charge is “eligible” does not mean they will let you into the program. Also, you cannot have ever been convicted or been on probation (including deferred adjudication) for any crime other than a Class C misdemeanor “ticket.”
What are the steps to get into the program?
This is an overview of the steps to get into the First Offender Drug Program, but you need to talk with your criminal defense attorney very specifically about what is required of you. First, you will fill out an application with your lawyer’s help. Your lawyer can get this application from the Tarrant County website, or from contacting the program director. After you have filled out your application, your lawyer must turn it in within 90 days of your case being filed. There are no exceptions to this rule. So, you need to be sure to get your application in as soon as possible. Second, you are now waiting for one of the assistant DAs to review your application. The DA will email your lawyer to let them know if you got into the program or not. If you do not get in, you need to talk to your layer about your other options or strategies. Third, once you have been accepted, your lawyer will schedule a date for both of you to go to court and you will enter a plea of “guilty.” This is when the program starts.
What happens in the First Time Offender Program?
The First Offender Drug Program is a lot like probation. The procedures for the program can change from time to time, but you can expect the felony program will last 180 days and the misdemeanor program will last 90 days. You can expect to be required to do the following in the program:
Be sure you fully understand what is required of you. If you violate any of the rules, then you will be found guilty and receive a sentence. If you are found guilty, even of a misdemeanor, the drug charge may stay on your record forever.
Tarrant County First Offender Drug Program Cost
(Program fee covers the cost of all testing and classes)
Attorney for Tarrant County Deferred Prosecution Program and First Offender Drug Program
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE to apply for either one of these programs! If you think you might qualify for one of these pre-probation programs and are interested in possible expunction of your record or a non-disclosure order, call us today. In our downtown Fort Worth office, both Cody Cofer and James Luster are former prosecutors and are intimately familiar with the rules and requirements for the First Offender Drug Program and Deferred Prosecution Program in Texas. Call us to discuss whether your case is eligible for application to either one of these programs. Your first call just might save your criminal record from blemishes and save you money on court fees, supervisory fees, and traditional probation costs.