What is Pretrial Diversion?

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 What Is A Pretrial Diversion Program?

Many counties offer a pretrial diversion program, sometimes known as an early intervention program, to criminal defendants as an alternative to jail.

Court supervision and community service are a few pretrial diversion examples.

By choosing to engage in a diversion program, you agree to certain requirements, such as attending treatment or support programs for a specific period of time and paying court fees.

These programs are intended to induce behavioral change through community counseling and make judicial resources available for more serious crimes.

Is this the Same Thing as an Early Intervention Program?

After entering a guilty plea or being found guilty by a jury or a judge, the defendant will be sentenced for the offense, at which point they will discover what their penalty will be. Criminal penalties might include detention in a jail or prison, fines, or probation.

However, depending on the nature of the act and the jurisdiction in which the case is heard, a defendant may be able to escape a criminal sentence by enrolling in an early intervention program. A program of early intervention would begin very early in the legal process.

Early intervention programs allow convicts to avoid traditional sentencing penalties, such as jail time and eventually have their criminal charges dropped once they complete the diversionary program.

Defendants cannot request to be placed in a diversion program directly. These requests are typically made by the defendant’s attorney or the prosecutor.

The prosecutor will have to approve the request. A court may also grant the option of early intervention in some situations.

If an early intervention program is available, a defendant should take advantage of it to work toward putting the criminal offense behind them. What diversion programs are available will be determined by the defendant’s needs.

An early intervention program might range from a few months to a few years. Common conditions of early intervention programs often include requiring a defendant to satisfactorily complete the following:

  • Mandatory community service;
  • Substance addiction treatment and counseling;
  • Compulsory education courses;
  • Payment of reparation to victims of their crimes;
  • Returning stolen goods; and/or
  • Repairing damaged property

What Qualifies a Person for Early Intervention?

An early intervention program is usually only offered for minor offenses where the offender has no criminal history. This is because the primary purpose of early intervention programs is to rehabilitate a defendant.

The qualifying requirements for an early intervention program will rely on the local jurisdiction’s rules. As a result, if a person has been charged with a crime and wants to investigate the availability of an early intervention program, they should consult with a criminal attorney.

In general, the defendant must have one of the following factors to be eligible for an early intervention program:

  1. The crime was a misdemeanor, such as a minor drug or domestic infraction; the defendant was a first-time offender with no prior criminal history; or
  2. The defendant has never before participated in an early intervention program for a different offense.

It is vital to remember that the jurisdiction where the case is being heard must have established a program for the option of an early intervention program to be available.

Furthermore, even if the qualifications are completed, the court or prosecution may retain discretion over whether or not the offender is admitted to the program.

In some circumstances, the victim’s consent is required for a defendant to be eligible for an early intervention program.

What Kinds of Early Intervention Programs Are There?

Generally, there are two basic types of early intervention programs: pretrial diversion programs and deferred adjudication programs. Both of these programs, if available, would be provided before the start of a defendant’s criminal trial.

The distinction between a pretrial diversion program and a deferred adjudication program is that a defendant in a deferred adjudication program has already submitted a guilty plea.

When the early intervention program becomes an option, the defendant’s case will be put on hold.

The defendant will be given certain conditions to meet to complete the program.

For deferred adjudication, the court will not enter a guilty plea to allow the early intervention program to proceed, and the defendant’s charges will be dismissed following the completion of the program’s requirements.

The matter will be tried if the offender fails to finish the program in a pretrial diversion case. As previously stated, a guilty plea is entered with deferred adjudication, and the offender proceeds to the sentencing phase to receive their punishment.

Will I Face Additional Punishment in Addition to Community Service?

A judge may sentence an offender to more than just community service. As previously stated, depending on the case and the offense involved, a judge may consider a combination of standard and alternative sentencing alternatives. Other forms of punishment include probation, restitution, fines, loss of driving privileges, or loss of the right to carry a handgun.

The seriousness of the act, whether the perpetrator was a repeat or habitual offender, and the amount of property damage involved may all influence the sentence (if any).

What Is the Difference Between Community Service and a Diversion Program?

A diversion program is a sort of alternative sentencing. A diversion program allows a judge to allow a defendant to receive an alternative sentence option instead of jail time. This alternative is typically made available prior to trial for criminal accusations involving drugs, alcohol, or domestic violence.

Instead of assisting the community, the diversion program focuses on the offender’s rehabilitation. First-time offenders and juvenile offenders are frequently offered diversion programs.

What if I Don’t Finish the Community Service?

The offender’s initial sentence is suspended in exchange for community service. This suggests that the criminal may have received a prison sentence. The original punishment may be imposed if the criminal does not fulfill their community service.

What Are The Benefits of Diversion?

A pretrial diversion agreement permits you to skip a long court hearing, and once completed, all criminal charges are usually dismissed.

Am I Eligible for Diversion?

Only in limited circumstances are diversion programs accessible. You may be eligible if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are a first-time offender;
  • The offense committed was minor (misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies); and
  • The county where the crime happened has a diversion program.

Is Pretrial Diversion Granted Automatically?

Pretrial diversion programs are typically requested formally during the pretrial stages of a criminal case. They are not normally issued automatically and must be requested in writing.

However, when a pretrial diversion is an option, the judge and lawyer will often notify the offender.
As a result, the defendant must acquire legal representation so that their lawyer can help them understand the pretrial diversion process..

When Will I Be Formally Informed That I Am Eligible For Diversion?

While the prosecutor will usually notify you of your eligibility, you or your attorney may request diversion. During your initial court appearance, a judge may also declare you eligible for diversion.

Do I Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help with Pretrial Diversion Issues?

Diversion program criteria differ, and a local criminal attorney can offer you the most up-to-date information in your area. Furthermore, a qualified attorney may be able to persuade the prosecution to let you enroll in a diversion program.


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