Diversion programs, also known as pretrial diversion programs or pretrial intervention programs, are a form of pretrial sentencing that helps remedy behavior that may lead to arrest.

A diversion is an alternative process in any criminal case when the prosecution is interrupted by a deal between the prosecutor and the defendant. The prosecutor may either not bring any charges at the beginning of the case or attempt to dismiss the charges altogether.

What Are Diversion Programs: How Do They Work?

Diversion programs provide offenders with vital services that can address the underlying causes of criminal behavior, such as drug abuse or alcohol. Diversion helps offenders set up an everyday life without any additional burden associated with a criminal record.

The police department, the court, an outside entity, or a district attorney’s office are responsible for running the diversion programs. If an individual completes the program, the criminal charges will reinstate, and the individual will not have a permanent record. Therefore, the individual must show that they have completed all requirements to receive a favorable outcome.

However, if an individual fails to complete the diversion program, it will reinstate the charges, and the individual may face further criminal proceedings. Therefore, individuals need to understand that diversion programs are not an amnesty from criminal charges but rather a way of providing justice in criminal cases. In addition, it is a way for offenders to receive help and guidance to become responsible members of society.

Types Of Diversion Programs

Generally, there are two types of diversion programs available:

First, informal diversion programs, also known as caution or warning programs, are less invasive. The purpose of these programs is to divert youths out of the system with no action or only minimal action.

Formal diversion programs are more structured and require the offender to complete a set of requirements, such as counseling or community service. These programs are typically used for more severe crimes and are more likely to result in a dismissal of charges.

Who Can Apply For Diversion Programs?

Knowing who can be eligible for diversion programs is essential to get justice in criminal cases. Generally, those who are accused of minor offenses and have a clean criminal record are ideal candidates for diversion programs. Additionally, those willing to accept responsibility for their actions and demonstrate an understanding of the consequences of their actions are also more likely to be accepted into diversion programs.

However, it is essential to note that not all criminal cases are eligible for diversion. In some cases, the crime may be too severe, or the offender may have a prior criminal record. Additionally, diversion programs may only be available in certain jurisdictions. Therefore, contacting the local prosecutor’s office is essential to determine if diversion is an option.

What Is A Diversion Agreement?

These programs mainly underline treatment, counseling, or behavior modification over punitive measures. The participants must agree to attend the classes or any vocational training. Moreover, they need to agree to any therapy, group counseling, performing community service work, or paying fines. 

Understanding The Purpose Of Diversion

The main objective of the diversion is to remove the youths from the juvenile justice process as soon as possible to avoid any negative results that may follow after the formal processing proceeds. For example, formal processing can increase the odds of recidivism, stigmatization, increased criminal justice costs, labeling, or potential harm to other processes taking place in the juvenile system. 

Diversion programs aim to minimize the risk of minimal cases in the court, reduce jail time, avoid negative impacts, reduce recidivism, and help offenders understand what has compelled them to show criminal behavior.

What Crimes Qualify for Diversion?

Some of the minor, non-violent offenses that qualify for diversion are

  • Petty theft
  • Personal possession of drugs (the possession must not be for any sale)
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Assaults with no or minor injuries 
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse or neglect

The defendants eligible for such programs must be non-violent DUI offenders with no more than two previous lifetime convictions for driving under the influence. 

Furthermore, the acceptance of the defendants is done after careful analysis of the case, and it depends on the discretion of the District Attorney’s Office. Moreover, they must not have faced prison time of 90 days or one year.

What Are The Advantages Of Diversion Criminal Justice?

Some of the benefits of court diversion are as follows:

  • Getting financial restitution for the loss,
  • an in-person or written apology,
  • a chance to voice their views,
  • participating in restorative justice programs,
  • gaining knowledge about the different situations surrounding the offense,
  • and evaluating the effectiveness of diversion in preventing future criminal behavior.

A Philadelphia criminal lawyer will provide insights into diversion programs and their impact on individuals. Schedule a free case consultation with us, or call us to discuss your case. It will help to know how diversion programs can benefit you in becoming a better person.