When someone gets arrested the judge will take into account many factors to deliberate on how to deal with the defendant. One of these factors is the criminal background and whether or not the defendant is a first time offender. If they are a first time offender and the charges are relatively minor than there are often a set of options available that may no longer be available for someone who has been arrested previously. Here is a quick overview of how being a first time offender can be helpful when dealing with an arrest.
If this is a defendant’s first time dealing with an arrest and if the charges are a misdemeanor, often a judge may choose to let a person be released on their own personal recognizance as opposed to bail. What this means is the defendant will sign a contract promising to show up to their court date as scheduled and in exchange, they will be released until then without having to pay bond or being detained. In some ways this almost like a first warning which is why it is most often available for first-time offenders but if you have had run-ins with the law previously it will be less likely that this will be offered.
Higher chance of bond at lower costs
If personal recognizance is not offered, there is still the possibility that the judge will set bond at lower costs then if the defendant has a previous record. While this does not pertain to all cases especially ones where violence is involved or if the judge feels that there is a higher risk of the defendant fleeing which would make the bond exponentially higher, for the most part, if personal recognizance is not given then at least the bond cost would not be as high.
Better chance of probation instead of jail time
And finally, one last benefit of a first-time offender has over someone with a previous record is just overall severity of punishment. Many times a judge is not looking to put someone in prison if it is their first offense and the crime does not warrant it. Though of course, other factors will be at play it is more common to show some leniency to first-time offenders and sentence probation over jail time.
To sum up, any arrest is scary and stressful but if you have never had any problems with the law before a lot of times you may be able to deal with the situation relatively unscathed.