What is Diversion?
Diversion is the “get out of jail free” card for first offenders on minor charges. It is a program that allows a defendant to participate in classes, offer restitution, or do community service in exchange for their criminal charges to be dismissed.
How does Diversion Work?
|Procedures||Explanation of each step in the Diversion process|
|First: Screening||Before you can even be considered for diversion, you need to be screened and deemed eligible for the program. Prior convictions and the nature of the offense that you are charged with can prevent you from being diversion eligible.|
|Second: Diversion Report||If you are eligible, the clerk will set the case out for a diversion report. You will meet with diversion, discuss the terms of your diversion program, and get set up with what you need to know. This can take several weeks.|
|Third: Enter Guilty Plea||In order to participate in the diversion, you must first enter a “guilty” plea to the offense. However, the court does not “accept” that guilty plea. Instead, the court sets the case out several weeks in order to allow you to complete your diversion requirements.|
|Fourth: Complete Diversion Requirements||Diversion is set up for nonviolent offenders who are likely not to repeat their behavior. In an effort to avoid repeat offenses, the courts commonly order a class- theft, prostitution, or drug/alcohol classes. The courts can also order community service. And, if applicable, any restitution that may be owed to the prosecuting witness (common in theft offenses).|
|Fifth: Dismissal and Seal||Once you have completed your diversion requirements, the charge is dismissed the record is sealed.|
Should I participate in diversion?
Yes. I advise all clients to participate in diversion. It is the only way to guarantee a dismissal of your charge and avoid a criminal record. If you are eligible for diversion, you should seriously consider taking advantage of the opportunity.
Is diversion worth my time?
Yes. As previously mentioned, diversion is worth your time because you are avoiding the criminal conviction. You will have to sit though some classes, do some community service, or pay back some restitution, but you will not have a criminal conviction.
Can I participate in diversion if I’m not a US Citizen?
Proceed with caution. You should contact an immigration attorney first. The immigration statute is worded in a way that the third step of “entering a guilty plea” could result in serious immigration problems. The plea counts as a “conviction” under the immigration statute, and depending on the charge, a “conviction” could result in immigration penalties.
What charges are diversion eligible?
The programs very from county to county, but commonly the following are diversion eligible:
- No-violent first offenses
- Possession crimes
- Crimes motivated by drug or alcohol use (theft/prostitution)
- And common crimes not associated with reoffending.
Are you Diversion Eligible?
If you have been charged with a crime and think you are diversion eligible, please contact Jaime Glinka at Suhre and Associates at (614)827-2000.