So you have been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Your likely a little scared and confused. Most of all you are concerned about have a criminal conviction on your record. Before you lose too much sleep, you might just qualify for a Diversion Agreement also referred to as Pre-trial Diversion.
What is Pre-trial Diversion?
Diversion is a statutory creation that gives the Prosecutor to create a pre-trial agreement that allows a person to have their charges dismissed.
Do I qualify for a Pre-trial Diversion?
The answer is, it depends. The statute that created pre-trial diversion specifically excluded a few crimes. Drunk driving (OWI or OVWI) is excluded from diversion programs as a matter of law. (there is another statute that allows an OVWI to be deferred, but that is a different blog for another day). Additionally, crimes involving driver’s with a CDL license are also excluded. Otherwise, if you are charged with a misdemeanor then you may qualify. If you do qualify then it is up to the discretion of the prosecutor to decide whether to offer it to you or not. Factors that prosecutors generally consider are:
a) nature of the crime;
b) whether or not there was a victim involved;
c) amount of financial loss or restitution owed to a victim;
d) the criminal history of the defendant;
e) the strength of the Prosecutor’s case;
f) how busy the Prosecutor’s office is handling more serious offenses
If I’m Offered a Pre-trial Diversion what should I expect?
A pre-trial diversion usually requires the completion of certain items in order for a Defendant to successfully complete it. Some of the items a prosecutor commonly includes in a pre-trial diversion are:
a) payment of diversion fees(if you can’t afford them the Prosecutor should still allow you to enroll in the program)
b) completion of community work service
c) completion of a related educational program (drug, parenting, alcohol classes, etc.)
d) refraining from the use of drugs or alcohol
e) not getting arrested for a specific period of time
f) drug screens
The List of things a Prosecutor can include in their diversion program are very broad. Each county Prosecutor’s office has control over their diversion program and they all vary based on location. The most common diversion requirements utilized by prosecutors are community service and requiring the attendance in some related educational class. Generally speaking, larger metropolitan counties tend to be more lenient with their diversion agreements than smaller more rural counties.
I have been offered a diversion agreement now what?
Normally, if you complete all terms of the agreement and stay out of trouble, your case will be dismissed. This is why diversion agreements tend to be very popular, as they allow you to avoid creating a criminal conviction on your record. Most counties have a diversion coordinator that will provide you with the agreement and terms you must follow. Once you pay the fee you will need to complete all other terms and avoid future arrest.