A new program in Osceola and Orange Counties is designed to divert people charged with first-time misdemeanor offenses away from the criminal legal system, with participating law enforcement agencies using their discretion to issue civil citations for certain misdemeanor offenses in lieu of making a physical arrest or issuing a notice for a person to appear in court.

The new Adult Civil Citation Program was announced on Thursday by State Attorney Monique H. Worrell, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Sheriff John Mina of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Chief Betty Holland of the Kissimmee Police Department, and Deputy Chief Jose Velez of the Orlando Police Department. Kissimmee Police Department is currently the only Osceola agency participating.

“Acknowledging the traumatic impact that incarceration has on individuals, this program serves as a mechanism to ensure that individuals are incarcerated only when absolutely necessary to ensure public safety,” said State Attorney Worrell. “The Adult Civil Citation Program will allow the accused to keep their humanity and dignity, decrease the chance of a negative interaction with law enforcement, and increase the likelihood that they won’t have future interactions with the criminal legal system, making our communities safer and more sustainable.”

Individuals who participate in the program will be required to pay a fee, participate in educational programs that may be specific to the offense, and complete community service. Once completed, the person will be issued a certificate, no criminal charges will be filed, and the case will be dismissed.

First-time, misdemeanor offenses for which someone may receive an Adult Civil Citation may include: possession of drug paraphernalia; possession of marijuana under 20 grams; misdemeanor assault; misdemeanor battery; retail theft of a shopping cart; trespass on property other than a structure or conveyance; petit theft; criminal mischief; disorderly conduct; littering; loitering; possession of alcoholic beverages by a person under the age of 21; and other misdemeanor offenses that may be deemed appropriate at the discretion of participating law enforcement agencies and the State Attorney’s Office. In certain instances, victims (if applicable) must agree with the issuance of the Adult Civil Citation.