Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Leon County to give tickets for minor legal infractions

TALLAHASSEE — Law enforcement officials from Tallahassee and surrounding Leon County announced Wednesday that they'll be the first Florida jurisdictions to adopt civil citations as an alternative to arresting adults for first offenses of minor, nonviolent crimes.

The Florida Smart Justice Alliance, a recently formed coalition that promotes changes in the criminal justice system, helped put the plan together and will try to spread the concept across the state. The initiative also is endorsed by local prosecutors, public defenders and judges.

As long as 17 years ago, Florida jurisdictions began using civil citations as alternatives to arresting juveniles, most commonly for marijuana possession and petty theft.

Its advocates say the program will save taxpayers money by reducing the number of people going to jail and court and preventing repeat offenses, the kind of changes the alliance was created to encourage.

The citations also spare first-time offenders from getting jail time, although there are other penalties, as well as a criminal record that would follow them around for the rest of their lives.

Individual law enforcement officers will have case-by-case discretion on who gets a citation and who gets arrested.

They already do that every day, whether it's deciding to give a speeding motorist a ticket or let the driver off with a warning, or arresting a juvenile offender as opposed to turning him over to his parents, Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell said.

"Half of law enforcement is discretion," Campbell said at a news conference. "Do you give them a chance? Do you call Momma and say this is what the kid did? So many times the punishment at home is far worse than the punishment that we're going to give them, except we're going to give them that record."

Tallahassee police Chief Dennis Jones acknowledged someone with a bad attitude might be more likely to get arrested, while a cooperative offender receives a civil citation for the same violation.

"Officers are human," Jones said. But, he added, "It's a good option for law enforcement. … Arrest should be our last tool, regardless."

Those cited must undergo an assessment, perform a minimum of 25 hours of community service and get treatment for underlying causes of their crime such as substance abuse, anger or gambling.

Offenders also must pay all costs of the program and will face arrest if they fail to meet any of its conditions.

Leon County to give tickets for minor legal infractions 10/31/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 9:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ex-daughter-in-law accused of $80,000 shopping spree with family Sam's Club account

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Plenty of people have in-law horror stories. But perhaps not as vexing as the one Thomas and June Simpson tell.

    Police said Mishay Simpson shot Andrew Noll in 2014 after he entered her Davis Islands home. An investigation found the two had been having an affair. Now she is accused in a civil lawsuit of charging $80,000 to her ex-husband's Sam's Club card, which was linked to his parents' bank account. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages

    Business

    Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

  3. Hard to believe NFL overtime change is about player safety

    Bucs

    If someone's house was engulfed in flames, would you hand him a fire extinguisher?

    Of course not.

    Fans await the beginning of overtime between the Patriots and Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February. [Associated Press]
  4. Winning high school essays urge balance in U.S. foreign, domestic spending

    K12

    Three winners were selected by a panel of judges from among 250 entrants to receive a $1,200 scholarship in the R.F. "Red" Pittman Tampa Tribune Scholars essay contest.

  5. Tampa Tribune scholarships inspire students to keep digging for facts

    College

    TAMPA

    When the Tampa Tribune launched a scholarship for Hillsborough County's top high school seniors more than 50 years ago, no one could have guessed it would one day be turned over to the newspaper's rival, now called the Tampa Bay Times.