MIP (Misdemeanor Intervention Program) in Tampa, FL

Many people contact us after agreeing to participate in the Misdemeanor Intervention Program (called "MIP") in Hillsborough County. MIP is offered for misdemeanors being prosecuted at the courthouse in Tampa or Plant City, FL.

This article explains the pros and cons of entering MIP.

In many of these cases, the person fills out the MIP application form and agrees to enter the program without realizing how long it will take, how expensive it will be, or how burdensome it is to complete all of the requirements. It is not uncommon for a person to opt out of the program after wasting a lot of time and money.

The best result in the case is getting the charges dropped outright. A criminal defense attorney can help you fight to get the charges dismissed outright without ever entering the MIP program.

MIP is not the best result because you are essentially admitting wrongdoing and waiving your right to complain about a civil rights violations that might have occurred (although not by entering a plea in court).

For many professionals, entering MIP causes the same type of consequences to their career as a conviction. Many people enter MIP thinking they can save money by not hiring an attorney only to realize later that they are taking the most complicated, time-consuming and expensive route possible.

We also receive calls from individuals who are "rejected" from the MIP program because of a prior arrest or conviction on their criminal history that makes them ineligible for the program. Finally, a person might violate one of the terms of the program, get rejected from the MIP Program, and need representation on the underlying charges in court.

We recently had a client tell us that before ever talking to a criminal defense attorney he had spent over $1,000.00 to get through MIP after a possession of marijuana charge. He estimated that he took a urine test and did group counseling once a week for more than 6 months and was still rejected from MIP after a failed urine test.

He even entered an "extended agreement" which kept him in the program for additional random urine screens, counseling with a relapse prevention group, counseling with a smart recovery support group as well as individual sessions, and homework assignments for another two months before he was ultimately rejected or terminated from MIP. The extended agreement also required additional costs.

This article is to help people understand what agreeing to MIP really means. The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are experienced in fighting criminal accusations. We focus exclusively on criminal defense. The clients who hire us what to fight the case for an outright dismissal so that they can be exonerated on the merits of the case.

Our office is in downtown Tampa. Call today for a confidential consultation to discuss your case. We can help you determine your best options and make an informed decision.

Call 813-250-0500.

Negative Consequences of MIP

The MIP program is not for everyone. If you are innocent of the charge, if evidence was gathered illegally, or if the prosecutor has insufficient evidence - then you might be far better off fighting the accusations in court.

Certain professionals face serious and immediate negative consequences after entering a MIP program because many employers or licensing entities consider it comparable to an admission of guilt and conviction. If your employment contract requires you to report an arrest or criminal charge, learn more about what the contract might say about diversion programs before you make a decision.

Furthermore, under the MIP contract, you might have to agree that the supervisor with the MIP program can visit you at your place of employment. You must disclose your employment address and notify the program if you change your employment.

For any one of these reasons, a person might be better off fighting the charges in court with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

MIP vs. "Withhold and Court Costs"

For a person that is not worried about the collateral consequences, that person might be better off hiring an attorney and fighting for a "withhold and court costs" disposition in court. This disposition requires a plea in front of the judge, but it is often faster than the MIP program that can take at least 3 months (even with early termination) or up to 12 months to complete.

If the person goes to court and receives a "withhold and court costs" with no probation or jail time, then the person is able to immediately start the process of sealing the record, if otherwise eligible.

In many cases, the prosecutor will not offer a "withhold and court costs" but will want probation. Negotiating this type of resolution sometime requires filing a viable motion to suppress or motion to dismiss or showing the prosecutor other problems with the case or mitigating factors.

Professionals and the Problems with MIP


For individuals with a state or federal professional license, the consequences of entering MIP (or entering a plea) are serious because the offense must be disclosed even if the individual ultimately seals or expunges the criminal record.

A resolution for MIP can have consequences for certain professionals include health care professionals such as nurses, certified educators such as public school teachers, lawyers, law enforcement officers, or members of the military. Even students that want to pursue one of these professions in the future should consider the negative indirect consequences of entering MIP that last a lifetime.

For many professionals, a better option is getting "informal diversion." Informal diversion is essentially a "gentleman's agreement" between the prosecutor and the defense attorney. Under this type of informal agreement, the accused person will do something affirmative [such as paying restitution or performing community service hours] in exchange for the prosecutor dropping the charges outright.

Nothing is said on the record about the agreement. The charges are just dropped and the person is exonerated without entering a formal diversion program such as MIP. This effectively allows the person to escape certain collateral consequences.

This type of resolution often requires the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Prosecutors are hesitant to offer this type of resolution unless the facts of the case require it. For instance, if the defense might win a viable motion to suppress or motion to dismiss then the prosecutor might be more likely to settle the case for something less than a formal diversion program.

Requirements for the MIP Program


The requirements of the MIP program depend on several factors including the specific criminal charge. General conditions include paying approximately $450 (called a "donation"), performing approximately 18 hours of community service, and paying restitution (if any).

Additionally, various special conditions are imposed for each different type of offense, for example:
  • a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana requires special conditions that the person submit to and pay for several random urine screens [the five (5) panel-drug tests], and if any screen is positive then the person must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and successfully complete any recommended follow-up treatment (typically at least eight (8) counseling sessions);*
  • a misdemeanor charge of shoplifting or petit theft requires special conditions that the defendant attend classes on how to prevent future acts of shoplifting;
  • for an assault or battery case, a person might have to attend anger management classes;
  • for a domestic battery case, a person might have to attend an intensive 26-week course called "Batterer's Intervention."
*On a possession of marijuana case, delay entering MIP until you are sure your first urine test will be negative. For chronic users of marijuana that might take up to 30 days. Many clients hire us because they do not want to pee in a cup.

A missed appointment will cause an allegation of a condition of your MIP agreement which usually states:
"It is understood and agreed that Defendant shall... report in person each month on a assigned date to the Misdemeanor Intervention Program unless otherwise directed by the Misdemeanor Intervention Supervisor" in Tampa or Plant City, FL.

The MIP Contract




Not a Good "Do it Yourself" Project

One of the purposes of the MIP program is to help the prosecutor and court clear cases from the docket. Although there might be some advantages to entering the MIP program, it really depends on the facts of the case and the individual's circumstances.

Representing yourself, even on a misdemeanor, is not a good "do it yourself" project. Seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Many people walk into court without an attorney and agree to MIP without understanding the consequences of that decision.

Other MIP Terms and Conditions


As a general matter, the requirement for restitution is not negotiable. If there is restitution due then the Defendant must pay it as a term of MIP.

For petty theft, the standard terms include:

  • petit theft school;
  • stay away from that location where the theft occurred; and
  • 15 hours of community service.

 For making harassing phone calls, the standard terms include:

  • no contact with the alleged victim; and
  • 16 hours of community service.

For lewd and lascivious, the standard terms include:

  • STD screening;
  • stay away from offense location; and
  • 16 hours of community service.

For carrying a concealed weapon or carrying an open firearm, the standard terms include:

  • forfeit weapon unless the person has a concealed weapons permit (the attorney might be able to negotiate that requirement away); and
  • 16 hours of community service. 


For Soliciting for Prostitution (for John's only), the standard terms include:

  • only available for soliciting but not for prostitution;
  • health test;
  • Johns Awareness Diversion Education program; and
  • Stay away from location.

For Disorderly Conduct, the standard terms include;

  • the AEATIN class; and
  • 16 hours of community service.

For resisting without violence, the standard terms include:

  • letter of apology to the law enforcement officer; and
  • 24 hours of community service.

For Worthless Check, the standard terms include:

  • worthless check school;
  • service charge;
  • restitution; and
  • 16 hours of community service.

For criminal mischief, the standard terms include:

  • no contact with the alleged victim; 
  • 16 hours of community service;

For battery charges, the standard terms include:

  • anger management;
  • 16 hours of community service; and
  • no violent content with the alleged victim.

The MIP Contract


The State Attorney's Office (SAO) doesn't necessarily tell you the terms up front. Instead, you have to complete a MIP application form and send it in with a $20 money order. Then you have to wait for a representative of the MIP program to contact you for the first meeting where the terms and conditions are disclosed. Surprise!

We thought it might be helpful to see all of the terms and the actual contract the State Attorney's Office might want you to sign. This is a sample contract received on February 4, 2014. The terms in your contract might be different.

Leave a message below and tell us about your experience with the MIP program. Tell us what you think the pros and cons are of entering the program so others might make a more informed decision.



IN THE COUNTY COURT, THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA

STATE OF FLORIDA                                                                CASE NO.:

    VS

“DEFENDANT NAME”                                                              DIVISION:
        Defendant.
______________________________________________/

MIP AGREEMENT

    This AGREEMENT, entered into this ______ day of ____________, 2014, by and between ________________________________, the Defendant; ____________, Attorney for the Defendant, and MARK A. OBER, STATE ATTORNEY, 13TH Judicial Circuit of Florida, by and through his undersigned Assistant.
  1. It is agreed that the Defendant meets the criteria and qualifications for admission to the Misdemeanor Intervention Program and Defendant’s Attorney, having fully investigated the case and having fully advised the Defendant’s best interest to enter into this agreement.
     
  2. It is understood and agreed that the Defendant shall participate in the Misdemeanor Intervention Program for a total period of six (6) months and shall report in person each month on an assigned date to the Misdemeanor Intervention Program unless otherwise directed by the Misdemeanor Invention Supervisor. This program includes six (6) months of active supervision. The Defendant may be submitted for early termination upon completion of all conditions of his/her Agreement. Under no circumstances will this program period be less than ninety (90) days.
     
  3. The Defendant, by and through his/her Attorney, stipulates and agrees that in consideration for entering into this Agreement, Defendant waives the right to a speedy trial as provided by law.
     
  4. The Defendant stipulates and agrees that he/she will keep the Misdemeanor Intervention Program Supervisor advised of his/her current address throughout the entire Program. The Defendant further stipulates and agrees that the address placed on this contract and/or subsequent address changes presented in writing to the Misdemeanor Intervention Program shall be utilized to provide notice to the Defendant to appear for subsequent court hearings if prosecution is reinstated as discussed in paragraph eight infra. The Defendant further stipulates that notice sent to the address shall be sufficient notice to the Defendant to appear and that failure to appear after said notice as provided may result in the issuance of a capias for the arrest of the Defendant.
     
  5. The Defendant, and his/her Attorney, warrant that the Defendant meets the eligibility criteria for admission into the Program and has no prior criminal record, other than as stated on the attached statement of prior Criminal/Traffic charges and is not on probation for a prior crime, charge or conviction. Defendant agrees to be completely law abiding during the term of this Agreement.
     
  6. Recognizing that acceptance into the Program is a privilege, the Defendant voluntarily agrees to make restitution in the case to the victim(s), ________________, in the amount of $____________ payable as follows: _____________________________________
     
  7. The Defendant agrees to submit to a psychological, drug, alcohol or any other examination or evaluation, if ordered. The Defendant further agrees that the costs of such psychological, drug, alcohol or any other examination or evaluation shall be his/her responsibility.
     
  8. The parties stipulate and agree that the Agreement shall in no way operate as a contract for immunity from prosecution for the charge pending in this case, and further, should Defendant fail to meet the terms and conditions of this Agreement, the Agreement shall be deemed void at the discretion of the State Attorney, without Notice of Hearing and prosecution may then be reinstated.
     
  9. The Defendant agrees to attend school or work regularly at a lawful occupation and/or participate in other programs, as directed, with the Defendant paying the costs of said programs.
     
  10. The Defendant agrees to inform his/her Misdemeanor Intervention Program Supervisor immediately of any change relating to employment or education.
     
  11. The Defendant further stipulates and agrees to answer truthfully all inquires and carry out all instructions of his/her Misdemeanor Intervention Program Supervisor, and grants permission for said Supervisor to visit his/her home, place of employment, school, or other location for the purpose of carrying out adequate supervision.
     
  12. The Defendant agrees to do the following, in addition to the above:
  • COST OF SUPERVISION – seventy-five dollars ($75.00) the first month and fifty-five ($55.00) every month thereafter.
  • COST OF PROSECUTION – fifty dollars ($50.00) payable within five months.
  • HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY VICTIMS ASSISTANT PROGRAM FEE – seventy-five ($75.00) payable within five (5) months.
  • COST OF INVESTIGATION FEE – to (DIVISION OF ALCOHOL, BEVERAGE & TOBACCO) in the amount of seventy dollars ($70.00) payable within five (5) months.
  • HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY DRUG EDUCATION TRUST FUND – fifty dollars ($50.00) payable within five (5) months.
  • COMPLETE FOUR (4) DRUG URINE SCREENS; the first one to be taken within (7) days of signing the MIP agreement and the remainder to be taken every three (3) weeks thereafter. If the Defendant tests positive, provides two (2) Consecutive diluted urine screens and/or fails to complete any urine screen by the Scheduled due date, a Substance Abuse Evaluation will be required. Treatment, if Recommended, is to be completed within five (5) months.
  1. The Defendant further agrees that all monies paid into the Misdemeanor Intervention Program shall be forfeited if he/she fails to meet the terms and conditions of this Agreement.
     
  2. MARK A. OBER, STATE ATTORNEY, 13TH Judicial Circuit by and through his undersigned Assistant, hereby warrants and agrees that, should the Defendant meet the terms and conditions of this Agreement as determined by said State Attorney, the pending charges in this case shall be nolle prose.
It is stipulated and agreed that the State Attorney’s decision regarding full compliance in this regard shall be final and shall not be reviewable by any court.
___________________________________           _____________
Defendant’s Signature and Address                        Date
___________________________________            _____________
Bureau Chief/Assistant State Attorney                     Date
Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida
Hillsborough County

MIP CLIENT GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE   

     A client under the supervision of The Salvation Army Correctional Services Department shall, at the time of his/her initial interview, be informed of his/her right to file an administrative grievance concerning any decision, action, policy or regulation of this agency that directly affects the supervision of his/her case.

    Any client grievance filed in accordance with this policy shall be heard and a response forwarded to the client within five (5) working days.

    The grievance procedure is as follows:
  • Grievance forms shall be available at each field office and all formal grievances shall be submitted on this form.
  • Program staff shall provide explanation and assistance to the client as requested.
  • All grievances will be submitted to the local program Director who may assign it to a local program supervisor for investigation.  The supervisor will respond to the grievance within five (5) days and after approved by the Director, forward that response to the client with a copy to the local corps officer.
Further appeal of the program supervisor’s decision will go to the Director. The Director’s decision will be final.

I have received, read and understand this Client Grievance Procedure.

____________________________________            ______________
Client                                                                          Date
____________________________________            ______________
Counselor                                                                   Date

MIP PAYMENT PLAN  

MISDEMEANOR INTERVENTION PROGRAM
PAYMENT PLAN

OFFENSE



SPECIAL CONDITIONS

POSSESSION WITHOUT COMMUNITY SERVICE

POSSESSION WITH COMMUNITY SERVICE

OTHER CHARGE

OTHER CHARGE WITH RESTITUTION

COMMUNITY SERVICE INSURANCE


$10.00

$10.00

$10.00

RESTITUTION




$____________

COST OF PROSECUTION

$50.00

$50.00

$50.00

$50.00

VICTIM ASSISTANCE FUND

$75.00

$75.00

$75.00

$75.00

DRUG EDUCATION TRUST FUND

$50.00

$50.00

$50.00

$50.00

COST OF INVESTIGATION

$70.00

$70.00

$70.00

$70.00

    Subtotal:    $245.00                 $255.00                             $205.00        $_____________
+COST OF SUPERVISION
Cost of Supervision is $75.00 for the first month and $55.00 for each month thereafter.
Total Monthly Cost

Month 1

$150.00

$160.00

$110.00

$

Month 2

$140.00

$140.00

$140.00

$

Month 3

$140.00

$140.00

$140.00

$





$





$

I understand that if I fail to meet this obligation I may be in Violation of my Misdemeanor Intervention Agreement.
______________________________________            ______________
Defendant                                                                       Date
______________________________________            ______________
MIP Case Manager                                                        Date

Urine Screens for MIP Possession of Marijuana
Date:_______________________

RE: Case(s)    _______________
   
Be advised that your 1st urine screen must be completed within seven (7) days of signing the MIP Agreement.  You must provide proof of completion by having the results faxed to:

MIP Case Manager ________________________  PO#_________

Please ensure that the actual results of all urine screens are forwarded to this office in a timely manner. Please note all drug screens must be a five (5) panel drug screen, be sure to advise your provider. Please sign and date this form.  Return it will all original signed and dated documents.
_______________________________________            ___________________
Client                                                                                 Date
_______________________________________            ___________________
Case Manager                                                                  Date
Misdemeanor Intervention Program
Hillsborough County

____________________________________________________

Additional Resources

Application for the Misdemeanor Intervention Program in Tampa - Visit the State Attorney's Office to find out more about the misdemeanor intervention program and download the application. Within 10 days this application, the Request for Consideration and Waiver of Speedy Trial form, and a $20.00 application fee must be returned to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office - Probation Division 800 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, FL 33602 (Phone:  813-318-5365). The HCSO Probation Division provides supervision for misdemeanor offenders sentenced to probation in county court and supervises Misdemeanor Intervention and Domestic Violence Intervention (Diversion Programs).
____________________________________________________

This article was last updated on Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

Joseph Graves is FDLE Crime Lab Chemist Accused of Tampering with Evidence and Stealing Pills

So the FDLE crime lab employee that resigned on Monday for stealing pain pills has been identified as Joseph Graves by the AP. The AP is also reporting that the State Attorney's Office identified his lawyer as Michael Griffith.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, this chemist is a crime lab technician who is accused of stealing prescription drugs and replacing them with over the counter pills to cover up the theft.

While the media and FDLE will portray him as the rogue chemist, little will be done to address why his supervisors didn't notice. Little will be done to about quality assurance problems at the FDLE crime lab.

This FDLE crime lab chemist got caught tampering with evidence which calls into question every lab report he has authored since 2006 when he was originally hired by FDLE. 
The allegation that he was replacing the missing pills with over the counter pills suggest that this was not the first time he did it. An employee of FDLE willing to steal drugs from evidence could quickly make millions by selling the drugs on the black market. The fact that one employee could be accused of such a thing makes us wonder whether such thefts are widespread.  
FDLE estimates that 2,600 cases in 35 counties might be impacted. These lab reports are the basis for sending people to prison often for long drug trafficking charges and often with minimum mandatory sentences that must be served day for day. 
The penalties in these cases hinge on identifying the substance and its weight. So if the chemist is tampering with evidence - all of those convictions are in doubt. It certainly impacts any pending case involving Joseph Graves. But it might even impact past cases for people sitting now in prison who might have newly discovered evidence sufficient to reopen the case based on these allegations against the former FDLE crime lab chemist. 
It also shows a more basic problem with the way FDLE is running its crime labs. The chain of custody in these cases is very important. When you have one instance of tampering with evidence it points to the fact that other FDLE employees could be doing the same thing. 
Criminal defense attorneys should be the first to discover crooked lab technicians who are willing to write a report and lie under oath.These lab reports should never be trusted. It is important to actually go the evidence room and look at the evidence to make sure it is what the report says it is. Attorneys should take the deposition of the crime lab technicians so they can explain their reports when appropriate. It also means that attorneys will be making more demands for independent testing at a private crime lab to confirm the results.

This one got caught stealing by someone outside the crime lab. What are the other ones doing?

Visit our office in Tampa, Florida
Sammis Law Firm
1005 N. Marion St.
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 250-0500