Diversion programs can be a defense option

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

A criminal charge tends to employ thoughts and emotions that lead the accused to believe that they must endure the penalties that charge carries. Even though defendants in Florida and elsewhere might feel helpless when it comes to defending themselves, the reality is that there are many options when it comes to asserting a criminal defense and avoiding criminal consequences.

In fact, there are specific programs designed for defendants facing specific offenses to help them avoid conviction and jail time.

Diversion programs

In Florida, diversion programs are available for those facing certain crimes. Additionally, these programs consider the defendant’s criminal history, as this could impact their eligibility. While they could go by various names, a diversion program is an alternative sentencing program. They could fall under the category of deferred adjudication or pretrial diversion.

For a deferred adjudication, this requires that the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to the charges at first. While the court does not enter a judgment of guilt at this time, it lays out the conditions that the defendant must meet. Once these requirements are fulfilled, the charges will be dismissed. As a result, the defendant will not have a criminal record concerning this charge.

In contrast, pretrial diversion will remove the defendant from prosecution. This means no plea of guilt or contest will be made. At this point, the prosecution will halt the case for the defendant to meet the conditions set. Thus, if the defendant fails, the matter can move forward to trial.

Eligibility and conditions

Eligibility and conditions of a diversion program are dependent on the charges in question. Often, these programs are used for low-level crimes, such as drug offenses, domestic disputes or first-time offenders. Conditions for these programs often consist of counseling, probation, drug testing, good conduct, restitution and community service.

Regarding eligibility for pre-trial diversion, there are often guidelines that are offense specific. However, eligibility requirements often include no prior felonies, no prior participation in a diversion program, no violent criminal history and no possession of dangerous weapons.

Criminal charges, procedures and defense options can get complex and confusion. Thus, it is not only important that defendant understand their rights when it comes to asserting a defense, but they should also take the time to understand the range of options they have when it comes to a criminal defense or entering a diversion program.