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What you should know about pretrial diversion programs

You've been accused of a crime, and you know that your entire life will change if you're convicted. Do you have any other options than to go to court? Fortunately, there could be another path open to you.

With certain types of offenses, you may be able to pursue deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion, which would result in your case being dismissed upon completion of the requirements.

Pretrial diversion

When you are offered pretrial diversion, it means you will be removed from prosecution early on. You will be removed before you plea no contest or guilty. This kind of program allows for pretrial intervention, accelerated rehabilitation and accelerated rehabilitative disposition. Essentially, the goal is that you are rehabilitated and meet the conditions set by the court instead of being found guilty and paying heavy fines or going to prison. Some possible conditions you may need to meet include completing community service, going to counseling or being placed on probation.

Who decides if you can go through a pretrial diversion program?

It's up to the prosecution in most cases to determine if you should go into a pretrial diversion program. There are laws that state eligibility requirements, but it comes down to the prosecution's preference.

Another thing that could help you in this situation is if the judge or the victim him- or herself suggests pretrial diversion. Your attorney can discuss this possibility with the prosecution as well.

What happens if you can't meet the conditions of the deferment program?

While it's in your best interests to complete the program and prevent the criminal act from ending up on your criminal record, some people may be unable to complete diversion programs. If you are unable to meet the conditions set by the court, you are not automatically found guilty. Instead, you must go to trial or enter a plea deal just as you would have prior to accepting the deferment program.

If you are in a situation where you may be qualified for a deferment program, your attorney can help you understand your rights and what you must do to have the case dismissed.

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