Pretrial Diversion – What is it and how does it work?
If you have been accused of a criminal offense, there are many ways your case may be resolved. You may opt to proceed to trial to contest the charges, you may consider a plea offer, or, if you qualify, you and your attorney may discuss the option of a pretrial diversion, sometimes referred to as deferred prosecution.
If you are offered a pretrial diversion agreement, it is important to discuss the pros and cons with your attorney and weigh all of your options. In some cases, a pretrial diversion may be an excellent way to resolve your case and in other instances, you may opt for a different resolution.
Pretrial Diversion – What Is It?
A pretrial diversion, or deferred prosecution, essentially places your case on hold for a specified period of time. Each court handles these agreements differently, but typically, if completed successfully, your criminal charges may be dismissed at the end of the agreement period.
A pretrial diversion is an agreement between the defendant and the state. The judge is not involved the agreement. The language in the agreement can vary from county to county, but usually it involves an agreement to withhold prosecution until certain requirements are met, and after the requirements are completed, the state agrees to dismiss the criminal charges.
Pretrial Diversion – How Does It Work?
As for the agreement itself, depending on the county and court, some prosecutors may require the defendant to admit the facts of the case on the record and under oath at the outset of the agreement, some just require an admission in writing within the agreement, and some do not have that requirement in their agreement at all. Most prosecutors will also require that the defendant not commit any new offenses during the diversion period (usually 12-24 months). There is almost always a pretrial diversion fee that must be paid as part of the agreement and sometimes additional user fees. Additionally, a defendant will often be required to complete community service hours, a drug or alcohol class, or behavior modification class, depending on the underlying charges. However, once the fees are paid, and any other additional requirements are completed, if successful, the criminal charges will be dismissed, either right away, or after the diversion period is complete.
Pretrial Diversion – Is it Right For Me?
A pretrial diversion is almost always reserved for first time offenders charged with minor misdemeanors. The benefit of a diversion is that upon completion, all charges are dismissed. Additionally, once dismissed, if at least one year has passed since the date of arrest or charges being filed, you may also be able to petition for the arrest record to be sealed. However, a diversion can be an expensive and lengthy process. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have a valid defense and your attorney may suggest contesting the charges through a motion to suppress or trial.
If you have any questions about a criminal case or if you have been offered a pretrial diversion and need advice, contact Chambers Law Office, LLC today to discuss your case.
*You should always discuss your case with an attorney, as each case is different and no two cases will be handled the same. This blog should not be a substitute for qualified legal advice.