If you are a first-time offender or facing a low-level charge, there is a possibility that you could qualify for a diversion program. Chances are, your defense attorney will discuss the program with you if you meet the requirements. To help you better understand this option, here is what you need to know.
What Is a Diversion Program?
A diversion program is designed to eliminate many of the procedures in a criminal court case. Instead of going through the complete process, you would have the option of entering a program that involves counseling, behavior modification, and other measures. What is required to complete the program is dependent on the offense you are facing.
For instance, if the charge is drug-related, it is possible that drug rehabilitation could be required. You might also have to pay a fine, attend vocational training, and perform community service.
Depending on the state in which you live, you might not have to plead guilty to enter the program. Some states do require that you do plead guilty, but the sentence is suspended until the program is completed.
A judge has the right to refuse a request for a diversion program. If the judge does deny your request, you can appeal the decision.
What Happens When the Program Is Completed?
If you successfully complete the diversion program, the prosecutor will most likely dismiss the charges if he or she has already filed them. If the charges have not been filed yet, the prosecutor usually waives the right to file.
It is important to note that it is possible that the prosecutor reserves the right to file charges in the future if you commit the same offense again. If that is the case with your particular offense, your attorney will ensure you are aware of this condition.
What If You Do Not Complete the Program?
In the event that you do not complete the program, it is very likely that the prosecutor will decide to proceed with the charges against you. Instead of being offered the opportunity to have the charges dismissed, you could face jail, heavy fines, probation, and community service.
Consult with your criminal defense attorney to learn more about diversion programs and to fully explore the options you have for dealing with criminal charges. An attorney like Ewbank & Kramer can help you evaluate each option and help you determine which would be best for your particular situation.