Pretrial diversion for misdemeanor cases in Indiana. Do you qualify, and is it a good option?
A person charged with a misdemeanor in Indiana has many options, including pleading guilty or taking the case to trial. Another option is a deferred prosecution or pretrial diversion, in which the case is kept pending for a period of time and later dismissed after compliance with certain conditions.
What are your options when charged with a misdemeanor in Indiana?When you are charged with a misdemeanor in Indiana, the court will set an Initial Hearing, at which the judge or magistrate will advise you of the charges against you and your rights under the Indiana and US Constitutions. These rights include representation by counsel, compulsory process, confrontation, speedy and public trial to the court or a jury, and to appeal any conviction. The court will then enter a preliminary plea of not guilty on your behalf and set future court dates.
At this point, a wise defendant will seek legal counsel to discuss possible defenses, strategy and tactics to obtain the best possible outcome.
Cases are typically disposed of by conviction, acquiital, or dismissal. If, after consulting with an attorney, you choose to enter a plea of guilty, then a judgment of conviction will be entered. If you choose to go to trial, your trial will be a bench trial (to the judge) unless you enter a written jury demand in a timely fashion. At trial, you may be convicted or acquitted.
An option that may be available short of either pleading guilty or going to trial is a type of deferred prosecution, specifically referred to as Pretrial Diversion.
Pretrial Diversion described and explained.Pretrial Diversion Programs, often referred to by the acronym PDP or PTD, are administered by prosecutors offices in counties throughout Indiana. The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council has adopted guidelines for such programs (http://www.in.gov/ipac/files/Diversion_Deferral_Guidelines_-2014_approved_IPAC.pdf), but each prosecutor in each county has the final say as to who will be eligible for the program.
In general, Pretrial Diversion will not be offered to persons charged with serious felonies or certain types of misdemeanors involving drunk driving or commercial drivers licenses. Quoting from the Guidelines mentioned above: "In exercising discretion to divert or defer individuals, factors which may be considered include: a. The nature and severity of the offense; b. Any special characteristics or difficulties of the offender; c. Whether the Defendant is a first-time offender; d. Whether there is a probability that the Defendant will cooperate and benefit from a diversion or deferral program; e. Whether an evidence based practice and/or other program is available and appropriate for the defendant; f. The impact of the diversion or the deferral upon the community; g. Whether the Defendant is likely to recidivate; h. Provisions for restitution; and i. Any mitigating or aggravating circumstances."
Common criteria imposed by local prosecutors may include either no previous arrests or convictions or none within a set period of time, such as two years. Other requirements may include no other pending charges, no injury to another person or damage to another's property, or no perceived risk to others.
IF, the defendant is accepted into the program, a standard requirement to earn dismissal of charges (typically 6 months or a year after the agreement is filed) is to avoid any new arrests, charges or convictions. Additional conditions may include community service, restitution, counseling (substance abuse, anger management, etc.), and clean urine drops.
As you can see, the favorable outcome of dismissed charges and a clean slate depends upon faithful compliance with all conditions.
To sum it all up, Pretrial Diversion can be a great option for a person with a clean prior record who is motivated to keep that record clean, and determined to follow the rules of the program. If you have pending misdemeanor charges in Indiana, you should consult with your attorney about whether PDP/PTD is a possibility.