The first thing that comes to a criminal’s mind after getting incarcerated is that he has to face the criminal conviction after a trial. But that’s not the case every time. When someone is accused, they do not necessarily get a criminal charge or go through a trial even if they are found guilty.
Almost every state in the United States allows criminal offenders to participate in the pre-trial diversion program to avoid charges, jail, or conviction.
This is said to be a resolution against a criminal case that allows a criminal to avoid jail time and criminal conviction. Also, this will enable a defendant to have no felony or criminal record in history.
Keep reading to know more about the pre-trial diversion programs and everything that influences the conviction.
What is a Pretrial Diversion Program?
A pretrial diversion program diverts a criminal from getting a conviction through a judicial system to supervised probation or release time. A criminal case can be dismissed if the defendants complete the pretrial diversion programs complying with the requirements of probation or supervised release. But the criminals who do not meet the requirements will ultimately get back to them along with their original charges and penalties (if any).
A pretrial diversion program is referred normally to as an alternative way of resolving a case. It applies when a defendant is incarcerated, charged with criminal offenses, pleads guilty and gets convicted or not guilty and serves a trial.
However, through a pretrial diversion, a defendant can be taken out from the process that happens during the arrest and a trial. Many times criminals are eligible to get into these programs between when the charges have been filed and before the trial. Other programs are also there which becomes applicable after an accused is charged.
The purpose of these programs is to divert the low-level criminal cases from the court and release the defendants who have fewer criminal convictions or who are convicted with non-violent offenses or without any criminal history. In addition to that, through these programs, the court can order rehabilitation for the ones who can use them beneficially. The court finds it a better way for those who find it foul to move from their first conviction without keeping the conviction in the records.
Many countries and even states have a myriad of diversion programs available for different crimes and different offenses. These diversion programs are mainly for offenders of;
- possession of illicit substances like marijuana
- domestic violence
- driving under influence (DUI)
What does the program entail?
While the programs available for defendants before and after the conviction have different purposes. But pretrial diversion programs mainly focus on the restitution and rehabilitation services that would be tailored according to the criminal offense.
A pretrial diversion program which is often used after a drug offense include;
- Completing a substance abuse or a drug rehabilitation program
- Complying with the drug test requirements such as passing random blood or urine tests for drug screening.
- Updating the court or the supervising officer about the status of the service and the program.
- Maintaining permanent employment and if directed to a course, then updating the status as a full-time student.
The Pretrial Diversion Program for DUI charges entails;
- passing a driving course from the court’s appointed institution
- if convicted of drug abuse, then completing an alcohol rehabilitation course
- Driving while installing an ignition interlock in the vehicle.
- If arrested after an accident, complying with paying compensation amount to the victim or victim’s family.
However, all the pretrial interventions obligate the convict to;
- Prevent engaging themselves in another charge or criminal activity during the period.
- Paying the program fees as required
- Complying with the restraining orders
- Completing the assigned community service hours as directed
Many of these programs are also a part of probation programs. And these pretrial diversion programs are often administered by the same county and state office that works to handle and supervise probation programs.
Who is eligible for a Pretrial Diversion Program?
Many times pretrial-diversion plans are only designed and assigned to the convicts with a fairly clean record and first-time offenders. However, some plans are even more lenient that anyone with lower-level convictions can join. Such offenders meet all the requirements for many programs that are required by the judge to allow the offenders or make exceptions according to the offense and conviction.
The jury will only be able to grant a pretrial diversion program or any other program when it finds that the prospective convict is not a risk to society. The offenders convicted of violent crimes having a criminal record history, will possibly not be eligible to apply for a pretrial diversion program.
What are some common types of Pretrial Diversion Programs?
As said, a pretrial diversion program allows an offender to avoid jail time and by complying with the requirements or completing the education courses and training, the criminal case can be dismissed as it never happened.
Pre-trial diversion programs are of three types
- Drug diversion (Penal Code PC 1000) including low-level misdemeanor diversions
- Veterans or Military diversions (Penal code 1001.81)
- Mental Health diversion (Penal Code 1001.36)
1- How to define PC 1000 diversion for a misdemeanor?
In the Penal Code 1000, certain non-violent misdemeanors are allowed to be diverted from the trial under the criminal justice system. These non-violent criminal cases would be completely resolved if the accused completed the drug treatments and other educational courses.
A treatment list is assigned to the defendant if he asks for a pretrial diversion program. But once he pleads, the defendant has to leave the right to have a speedy trial. For this, the defendant needs to complete a list of treatments in a specific period. These treatments contain (but are not limited to);
- Alcohol treatment
- Drug treatment
- Victim restitution
- Additional classes, and
Under the PC 1000, the following drug offenses can be resolved through diversion programs
- Public intoxication
- Possession of toxic substances
- Solicitation is a crime
- Possession of illicit and controlled substances while driving
- Possession of opened can or bottle of an illicit and controlled substance while driving
- Illegal marijuana cultivation
- Aiding and Abetting
2- How to define PC 1001.36 mental health diversion?
The Penal Code 1001.36 offers mental health treatments if they have been convicted because of a crime due to a mental disorder. These mental health treatments include;
- Therapy sessions
- Drug treatments
Assigned treatments depend on the court’s discretion. They may last up to 2 years. Once the treatments are completed, the charges are sealed and later dismissed. Almost every criminal execution is eligible for mental health diversion to accept for the following crimes;
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Sexual assault with an intent to rape
- Sex without consent of another
- Lewd acts involving a child under 14 years of age
- Sexual abuse with a child
- Terrorism act
Not everyone is eligible to apply for the diversion that may dismiss the case. To be eligible for the diversion, convicts have to meet the following requirements;
- That the defendant is suffering from a mental health condition, which is not diagnosed as antisocial personality order, pedophilia, or personality disorder.
- That the mental disorder does not influence the committed offense
- The defendant leaves the right of a speedy trial
- The offender admits to having treatments as a part of a diversion program.
- The jury does not find the defendant a threat to society.
3- Veterans or Military diversions (Penal code 1001.81)
Veterans and on-duty military diversions suffering from mental health issues or trauma are eligible to get military diversions. These military diversions allow the defendants to get treatments and have their charges dismissed. The military officials are eligible to get treatment for;
- Sexual trauma
- PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress disorders
- Mental Health Problems
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Substance Abuse
To qualify for the military diversion, these conditions must be met;
- That the defendant is an on-duty or current member of the US military
- Because of his or her military duty, the defendant is suffering from PTSD or any other mental health issue listed above.
What is the cost of pretrial diversion?
When the pretrial diversion is compared to pretrial detention, the diversion has a minimal cost. For example, the pretrial diversion program costs between $3100 and $4600 depending on the defendant and the risk he entails for fleeing if he does not commit another crime during the trial period or does not comply with the requirements of a pretrial diversion.
If you are convicted of a crime for the first time, you must hire an experienced self-defense attorney so you get a better understanding of your constitutional rights and how you can get away with the charges. As stated above, if you want that your criminal conviction should not appear in your criminal records, then your attorney may apply for a pretrial diversion with which you can not only dismiss your charge but there would be no record in your criminal history.
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