Pretrial diversion refers to a procedural option for certain criminal offenses. Diversion is where the defendant is allowed to undergo alternative sentencing options rather than spending time in jail or prison. This type of sentencing alternative focuses on rehabilitation of the conduct rather than on the punishment aspects of the criminal justice system. Diversion programs often involve remedies like community service, counseling (especially for substance abuse), and fines.

Thus, “pretrial diversion” refers to diversion that is granted before trial begins. Courts often issue order pretrial diversion as a way to save judicial resources, since the entire trial does not need to be completed.

Who is Eligible for Pretrial Diversion?

Pretrial diversion programs are not available for everyone. They are usually reserved for first time offenders being charged with less serious crimes. Eligibility requirements may differ by state, but they usually require that the following requirements be met:

  • The person is a first-time offender.
  • The crime was a misdemeanor (some states allow non-violent felonies).
  • The county where the crime was committed has a diversion program already in place.

Also, pretrial diversion is a common sentencing option for juvenile crimes and juvenile offenders. Such programs can help younger defendants maintain a good record and can help them to remain functional in their communities.

Is Pretrial Diversion Granted Automatically?

Pretrial diversion programs must usually be formally requested during pretrial stages of a criminal case. They are not usually granted automatically, and must be applied for through a request. However, the judge and lawyer will often inform the defendant when pretrial diversion may be an option. Thus, it’s important that the defendant obtain legal representation, so that their lawyer can help them understand all the different options available to them.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Pretrial Diversion Issues?

Pretrial diversion can help a defendant deal with their criminal charges in a way that is very helpful and beneficial for them. You may need to hire a criminal lawyer if you have questions about diversion programs in your area, or if you need assistance with any criminal law issues. An attorney can provide you with legal information and representation for your particular legal issue. Also, your lawyer can inform you regarding any other alternative sentencing options available to you.