Understanding Pretrial Diversion

When someone is accused of a crime, there is more than one way to proceed, and the choices can seem confusing to some. If you have been arrested, you will need to obtain the services of a criminal defense attorney who works in the area and is able to deal with your needs. Read on to find out more about the main options available after an arrest and particularly about pretrial diversion.

After an Arrest

Once you consult with an attorney and provide them with the facts of your case, you can expect to be advised on your options. Your attorney can give you your options and speak about the ramifications of each, but they cannot make a decision for you. Commonly, those arrested face the following choices:

  1. Accept a plea deal or plea bargain.
  2. Plead not guilty and go to trial.
  3. Plead guilty and be sentenced.
  4. Participate in pretrial diversion.

What Does Pretrial Diversion Mean?

As the name suggests, pretrial diversion programs are meant to take place before a trial happens. If the program participant carries out the requirement of the program, the charges are usually dropped. The idea behind these programs is to rehabilitate rather than punish. It is a manner of diverting what might be a budding criminal using techniques like classes, community service, counseling, drug treatment, and other alternatives to incarceration. Additionally, treating the accused in this manner is less expensive than jailing them. Pretrial diversion programs should not be treated as "getting off easy" – the requirements can be just as tough as criminal sentences. The difference is that there will be no criminal record for the accused.

Who Can Participate in Pretrial Diversion?

While these programs are seen as positive ways to deal with offenders, they are not available to everyone everywhere. Some counties don't provide this option, and some offenders don't fit the requirements While these programs are unique and depend on the laws of the state or county, those who are deemed appropriate might include:

  • First-time offenders.
  • Those charged with a misdemeanor.
  • In some places, those charged with non-violent felonies.

Two population categories that see a lot of pretrial diversion participants are juvenile offenders and those that are charged with drug crimes.

How to Take Part in Pretrial Diversion

These programs may be available but may not be offered to all. If you are interested in pretrial diversion or other alternative forms of sentencing, speak to your defense attorney who will then request admission into the program for you. Speak to a criminal defense attorney to learn more.