The consequences of a criminal conviction are grave. Apart from the possibility of incarceration, you also have to live with a tarnished name for many years, possibly for the rest of your life. A first offender program is an alternative sentencing route that differs from a standard criminal conviction. It allows you to participate in activities designed to rehabilitate you and avoid traditional punishments. Here are some of the things you may be required to do as part of your first offender program:


A first offender program is meant to rehabilitate you and that means acknowledging your responsibility. The best way to do this is to apologize to the victims of your crime via a suitable means, such as a letter, as ordered by the court.


This may take different formats depending on your cause of the psychological disturbance. For example, drug abuse counseling is appropriate if you committed a drug-related offense. The aim is to rehabilitate you so that you avoid committing further offenses.

Community Service

Since criminal acts harm the society at large, doing community service is a way of paying or giving back to the society. Community service may be scheduled after hours or over the weekends. This allows you to continue with working and hopefully keep your job so that you may not be tempted back into a life of crime.

Monetary Restitution

If your crime harmed somebody, which is often the case, then you may be required to pay him or her for the damage. For example, if you vandalized a home, the court may order you to pay for its repairs.

These are just a few aspects of a typical first offender program; the court will do anything in its power to help you avoid participating in further criminal acts. In turn, if you stick to the stipulations of the program, you get to enjoy the associated benefits that include:

  • Rehabilitation – Psychological counseling or drug rehabilitation may help you avoid further crime and start living a productive life. For example, if you were finding it difficult to hold a job, rehabilitation may help you keep one.
  • Avoidance of prison time – Going to prison is bad not only because of the discomfort of being locked up, but also because it increases your risk of engaging in further crime. According to statistics, 30% of adult offenders released from state prisons are rearrested within six months.
  • Avoidance of criminal conviction stigma – A criminal conviction carries with it a high level of stigma that may stay with you for life. For example, a criminal record may make it difficult for you to find work or get educational scholarships. A first offender program helps you to avoid this by not giving you a criminal record.

If you are facing your first criminal record, then you should pursue a first offender program. It will not let you go scot-free, but it is better than the alternative of a standard conviction. Talk to your defense attorney to see if there are any first offender programs in your area. For more information, consider contacting a professional like those at the Law Office of Michael Marinaro & Associates.