If you are facing criminal charges, it is natural to be worried about the outcome of your case. The court process is daunting. You might think that you will be forced to go to jail simply because the prosecutor has filed criminal charges against you. This is not the case at all. The vast majority of criminal cases in the United States are resolved through plea agreements. In exchange for pleading guilty, your sentence will be less than the statutory maximum. Sometimes, cases must be dismissed due to police procedural errors or violations of your constitutional rights. And sometimes, a defendant is able to keep a conviction of his or her record altogether by participating in a pretrial diversion program.
What is Pretrial Diversion?
Pretrial diversion is a program that allows a defendant to work to keep charges off his or her criminal record. In exchange for meeting the program requirements, the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the charges altogether. This is a written agreement that can be enforced by the court once the defendant successfully completes the program.
A diversion program is usually tailored to the charges you face. If, for example, if you have been charged with a drug offense, you will likely have to submit to drug testing to prove that you are not continuing to use illicit substances. Or if you have been charged with assault, you might have to take an anger management class. In addition to these case-specific requirements, there are also general requirements that apply to all diversion cases. For example, you cannot be charged with any new crimes during your participation in the program.
Who is Eligible for Pretrial Diversion?
Diversion programs is usually available only to first-time offenders who have been charged with a non-violent crime. This does not mean that every non-violent, first time offender is eligible. It is important to consult with a defense lawyer about your eligibility. In some circumstances, a defense attorney might be able to work with a prosecutor to improve your eligibility for a program.
If I Can’t Get in a Diversion Program, Can I Still Avoid Jail Time?
Even if you are not eligible for diversion, it can still be possible to avoid jail time. A plea agreement can stipulate to no jail time on minor offenses. The prosecutor might require you to perform community service or attend counseling but waive any jail terms.
It is also sometimes possible to challenge the prosecutor’s case altogether. Evidence can be inadmissible for a variety of reasons, and it is important to get a defense lawyer’s opinion on the strength of the charges against you.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys for Austin Pretrial Diversion Programs
There are many collateral consequences to having a criminal conviction on your record. Securing a job, housing, or even professional licensure can be more difficult after a conviction. This is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Austin criminal defense lawyer about a pretrial diversion program. Granger and Mueller, P.C., has been serving Travis County residents for over 25 years. Call 512-474-9999 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a skilled Texas defense attorney.