Diversionary programs are available in some criminal cases. They allow certain offenders to avoid jail time and instead complete a rehabilitative program, often coupled with electronic monitoring. Such programs “divert” the offender from the normal routes of criminal conviction and allow them to avoid the stigma of conviction and a permanent criminal record.

In a diversionary program, the offender is placed under probationary supervision or court supervision for about one year. The aim is to assist the offender in correcting their criminal behavior through rehabilitation efforts like sobriety programs or anger management programs.

Diversionary programs are called by many different names depending on the jurisdiction. They are sometimes called “Pre-Trial Intervention” (PTI), Early Intervention, or Deferred Prosecution. Pre-Trial Intervention diverts the defendant to a program before they are convicted of a crime; Deferred Prosecution occurs after the defendant has already been convicted.

Some other names for diversionary programs include:

  • Diversion Programs
  • Deferred Adjudication
  • Stay of Adjudication
  • Accelerated Pretrial Rehabilitation
  • Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

When Are Diversionary Programs Available?

Diversion is only available for certain eligible defendants. In particular, diversion is usually reserved for first-time offenders, especially those who demonstrate potential for rehabilitation. Diversionary programs are commonly available for:

  • Juvenile crimes or age-based criminal offenses
  • Petty misdemeanor crimes (such as shoplifting or graffiti)
  • Non-violent felonies
  • Crimes involving drugs or alcohol
  • Some DUI charges (also known as “DUI Diversion”)
  • Minor traffic-related offenses
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Other crimes such as falsifying documents

Diversionary programs are mainly regulated by state laws, which can vary according to the state. In most cases, it is the prosecutor who has discretion to recommend or admit a defendant to a diversion program. Judges can also recommend diversionary programs for defendants who are eligible under state laws. 

What Do Diversionary Programs Usually Consist Of?

Diversionary programs are prescribed according to the rehabilitative needs of the individual offender. For example, diversionary programs can involve:

  • Substance abuse treatment and random drug testing
  • Payment of restitution to victims
  • Mandatory community service
  • Letters of apologies to victims
  • Avoiding situations or settings that might lead to the commission of another crime
  • Attending mandatory educational courses
  • Restrictions on travel or prohibitions on entering certain areas (like a school zone)
  • Payment of community fines or criminal fees

Diversionary programs are very similar to probation arrangements in that the offender must complete the program and follow all its requirements. If a defendant successfully completes all the conditions of a diversionary program, then the original charges are dismissed and there is no record of conviction.

However, if the person violates the terms of the diversionary program, they are terminated from the program and the case may be returned to the trial list. They may then face the original criminal conviction/sentencing that would have been imposed on them.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Diversionary Programs?

Diversionary programs can be a viable alternative to conventional sentences involving imprisonment. They have been proven highly successful for many persons. You may wish to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer in your area for help with diversionary programs. Your attorney can help determine whether diversion is available to you. They can also be on hand to assist with completing the program requirements.