Adjudication Bill Working Way Through Florida House

The bill takes aim at "adjudication withheld", an option that allows defendants to avoid a criminal record.

A former FSU quarterback who plead no contest to felony grand theft charges. A Tallahassee woman who plead no contest to practicing medicine without a license and a storeowner who plead no contest to selling alcohol to a minor, all three had adjudication withheld, meaning if they fulfill the terms of their probation they will not have a conviction on their record.

In Leon County last year 3,700 cases wound up with adjudication withheld, 1,249 of them were felonies. Rep. Dan Gelber contends adjudication withheld is being abused and some Floridians accused of felonies have had adjudication withheld three times or more.

Rep. Dan Gelber, (D) Miami Beach says, "A second, third, fourth or even fifth time, their first bite at the apple, five times, and these people as recent studies show are committing multiple serious crimes because the system never captured them or truly punished them the way they were supposed to."

Gelber has introduced a bill to make sure no one gets as he says "three bites at the apple". State attorney Willie Meggs says adjudication withheld is appropriate in some cases, especially for first time offenders who have never been in trouble before, but three times?

Willie Meggs, State Attorney, says, "That's wrong. That should not happen. That clearly should not happen."

The adjudication withheld bill was fueled in part by an expose done by the Miami Herald. It has passed the House and is now working its way through the Senate.