What Is A Pretrial Diversion Program?

judge banging a gavel - pretrial diversion program concept

Pretrial diversion is an alternative way to resolve a criminal case that can allow you to avoid jail and a criminal conviction. If you are eligible, pretrial diversion removes you from the criminal justice system after completion of supervised release or probation. Upon successful completion of the pretrial diversion program, your case may be dismissed. If you fail to complete the program, you will be prosecuted for the original offense. A criminal defense attorney can answer any questions you have about the process, increase the likelihood that you will be able to participate in a pretrial diversion program, and negotiate and explain the terms of your pretrial diversion. However, pretrial diversion programs are not available in some federal jurisdictions.

What Is Pretrial Diversion?

Pretrial diversion is a voluntary program that can provide an alternative to prosecution. If you are eligible and wish to participate, you enter into a plea agreement wherein you are required to abide by certain conditions and to refrain from criminal activity, for the term of the agreement.

Once you have been arrested and charged with a crime, your case would normally move through the pretrial discovery process, and you would plead guilty and be sentenced or plead not guilty and take your case to trial.

If you agree to participate in a pretrial diversion program, your case is diverted from the criminal justice system, and you will enter into community supervision, rehabilitation, or mental health and substance abuse treatment as appropriate based on the nature of your offense.

In the federal system, the Department of Justice, has created policies and procedures for people who seek diversion from prosecution. The U.S. Attorney’s Manual specifies eligibility criteria and the procedures to be followed. Once a pretrial diversion agreement has been entered into and accepted by the Court, a defendant will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Department in the district where he/she resides.

Pretrial diversion programs vary by judicial district and are not available in every district.

Before entering pretrial diversion, a pretrial services or probation officer will prepare a report outlining the defendant’s personal history and criminal record and an assessment of the individual’s risk factors. The report will also contain a recommendation regarding the defendant’s eligibility to participate in pretrial diversion. If a defendant is recommended for pretrial diversion, the report will contain a recommendation for possible conditions of diversion and a recommended length of supervision.

How Long Does Pretrial Diversion Last?

Participation in a pretrial diversion program is voluntary, and the conditions of diversion will vary based on the judicial district, the nature of the offense, the needs of the criminal defendant, and the programs available.

Some defendants will be on diversion for as little as one month, while others will be on diversion for as long as five years. The average duration of pretrial diversion is one year.

What Happens After Completion of a Pretrial Diversion Program?

People who successfully complete a pretrial diversion program may qualify for a range of outcomes, such as dismissal of their case, a reduction in charges, or a more favorable recommendation at sentencing.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Pretrial Diversion Program?

While there can be a tremendous upside to participating in a pretrial diversion program, it is not for everyone. Adhering to the terms of your pretrial diversion program can be difficult. If you fail to comply, you face significant legal risks.

How Can an Attorney Help?

Pretrial diversion can be extremely beneficial for someone who is charged with a crime. But qualifying for pretrial diversion in federal court can be difficult. An experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can answer any questions you have about the process. If you wish to participate, working with a criminal defense attorney will increase the likelihood that you will be accepted. An attorney will negotiate and explain the terms of your pretrial diversion.

If you are under investigation or have been charged with a federal crime, you must act quickly to contact a federal criminal defense attorney. You should speak to an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer before you decide whether pretrial diversion is right for you. Hope Lefeber has helped numerous clients navigate the pretrial diversion process and obtain a favorable resolution to their case.

To learn more, contact the Law Offices of Hope Lefeber to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case and how she can help. Call Hope Lefeber today at (610) 668-7927.

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