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What Does Diversion Mean in Court?

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What Does Diversion Mean in Court

At Buda Law, we understand that mistakes happen and that those mistakes can, unfortunately, result in criminal charges, a conviction, and serious penalties. In some cases, however, first-time offenders may qualify for diversion programs. These programs are designed to allow eligible participants to avoid traditional criminal justice processes and potentially even a criminal record under specific conditions.

In Tampa, different criminal offenses may qualify for different programs, which is why we’ve compiled this blog to break down the various options available. Many diversion programs require counseling sessions, community services, random drug testing, and other rehabilitative measures. Some programs, however, may require participants to complete anger management courses and substance abuse treatments depending on their criminal cases.

If you’ve been charged with a crime and seek skilled legal representation to secure the best possible outcome of your case, contact Buda Law at 813-322-2832 to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer on our team today. 

What is a Diversion Program?

Diversion programs are judicial alternatives that allow individuals facing criminal convictions to participate in specific rehabilitation measures instead of facing prosecution. These programs are usually reserved for first-time offenders or those accused of minor offenses.

When an individual participates in diversion, their criminal case is temporarily removed from the court until they successfully complete their diversion plan. Once finished, the court system will reduce or dismiss the individual’s criminal charges. 

Who Qualifies for a Diversion Program?

Generally, diversion programs are designed for individuals who are first-time offenders or those involved in minor, non-violent misdemeanor offenses. However, the criteria for qualification can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the crime.

Factors such as the defendant’s criminal history, the type and severity of the crime committed, and the willingness of the person to accept responsibility and engage in rehabilitation efforts are also considered. 

What is Diversion

Types of Diversion Programs in Tampa, FL

In Tampa, the legal system provides several pretrial diversion programs for first-time offenders as an alternative to jail time and a criminal record. In the section below, we’ll explain the different programs available to eligible offenders and the requirements that may be mandated. For instance, some diversion programs are more strict than others and may require random drug tests and meetings with a probation officer.

It’s important to be familiar with the requirements of your diversion program, as failure to comply can result in reinstatement of charges and continuation of the prosecution process, potentially leading to a criminal conviction.

Meeting with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Andrew Buda is highly recommended for individuals to fully understand the process and what is expected of them. Successful completion of pretrial diversion programs can lead to the dismissal of charges, providing individuals the opportunity to move forward without the burden of a criminal record.

Misdemeanor Diversion Program 

The misdemeanor diversion program offers an alternative for individuals accused of non-violent misdemeanor offenses. Eligible participants will be required to pay fines to enter the program and complete community service hours, which vary depending on the crime they were charged with. Some misdemeanor offenses also require those accused to pay restitution to victims, if any. 

Felony Diversion Program 

Felony pretrial diversion is an option for first-time felony offenders to avoid having a felony conviction on their criminal record. This diversion plan includes completing 40 hours of community services, program fees, monthly probation officer meetings, restitution (if applicable), and a self-improvement educational course.

Only certain third-degree felony crimes are eligible for this program, and the offender must not have any prior convictions. 

Drug Diversion Program

In Tampa, drug diversion is referred to as the Drug Education and Treatment Reducing Recidivism (DETRR) Program. The DETRR is divided into three levels and eligibility is determined by the quantity of drugs found at the time of arrest.

  • Level One is for first-time offenders charged with simple drug possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.
  • Level Two is available for first-time offenders charged with felony possession of a controlled substance.
  • Level Three is the final option for those who did not successfully complete Level Two or are ineligible for Level One or Two because it’s not their first offense.

Each level in DETRR has its own requirements and related fees that will be due throughout the program. 

Types of Diversion Programs in Tampa

DUI Diversion Program

DUI diversion, or Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (RIDR), is an option for first-time offenders charged with non-aggravated DUIs. To be eligible, offenders must not have a criminal record, no children were present in the vehicle, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was 0.20 or below, and the DUI did not result in property damage or an accident.

Like drug diversion, RIDR is divided into three levels: 

  • Level One is for a BAC level at 0.15 or below.
  • Level Two is for offenders with a BAC level over 0.15 or who did not submit a sample.
  • Level Three is for drug-related DUI offenses.

During the first 60 days, participants must complete at least ten community service hours, attend a MADD victim impact panel, complete DUI courses and treatments, and avoid criminal activity. Additional sanctions are required, including installing an ignition interlock alcohol monitoring device or continuous alcohol monitoring device.

Once the pretrial sanctions have been completed, each level has its own probation terms and conditions that must be met to have the charges lowered to reckless driving with adjudication withheld

Domestic Violence Diversion Program

The Domestic Violence Diversion Program (DIVP) is a targeted initiative designed to address and prevent the cycle of domestic violence through intervention and education. Offenders will be required to complete the Batterer’s Intervention Program, substance abuse evaluations, and any additional treatments. Successful completion of the program also requires pleading guilty to the domestic violence charges.

Only certain criminal cases are eligible for this program, including stalking, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, assault, and battery. It’s important to note that the criminal charges must be misdemeanor offenses.

Unlike other diversionary programs, the domestic violence intervention program hinges on whether or not the victim consents to their participation. 

Driving With Suspended License Diversion Program

The Driving With Suspended License Diversion Program offers a constructive solution for individuals facing charges related to operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license. This program acknowledges the often complex reasons behind license suspensions and seeks to address these underlying issues directly.

Successful completion of the program will result in the criminal charges being lowered to Driving with No Valid Driver’s License. 

Pros and Cons of Diversion Programs

Diversion programs offer a rehabilitative alternative to traditional criminal justice proceedings, focusing on treating the root causes of criminal behavior. While diversionary programs provide significant benefits, including reduced recidivism, avoidance of criminal records, relief to the criminal justice system, access to support services, and promotion of restorative justice, there are also notable drawbacks.

Challenges include strict eligibility criteria, variability in program availability and implementation, resource constraints, perceptions of leniency, and difficulties participants may face in meeting program requirements. 

Tampa Diversion Attorney

Is a Diversion a Conviction?

Participation in a diversion program is not considered a conviction. These diversionary programs offer an alternative to traditional prosecution for eligible individuals. When an individual successfully completes their program, the charges against them are typically dismissed, meaning they do not receive a conviction on their record for that particular offense.

This outcome is one of the primary benefits of diversion programs, offering participants the chance to avoid both the immediate and long-term consequences of a criminal conviction, such as jail time, fines, and difficulties securing employment, housing, or education.

However, participants must comply with the program’s requirements; failure to do so can result in reinstatement of the charges and continuation of the traditional prosecution process, potentially leading to a conviction.

How Our Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

At Buda Law, our Tampa criminal defense lawyers provide experienced legal representation and personalized support to individuals facing misdemeanor and felony charges. Our approach begins with a detailed evaluation of your case to identify the most effective defense strategies and assess eligibility for diversion programs.

Your Tampa criminal defense attorney will then guide you through every step, from negotiating with prosecutors for your admission into suitable diversion programs to providing ongoing support to ensure you meet all requirements successfully.

Our team at Buda Law is committed to advocating for your best interests, aiming to secure outcomes that protect your future from the potential impacts of a criminal conviction. 

Tampa Criminal Defense Attorneys

Call Tampa Diversion Attorney Andrew Buda of Buda Law Today

If you believe your criminal charges qualify for entry into a diversion program, the criminal defense lawyers at Buda Law can help. Not only will a Tampa criminal defense lawyer evaluate your charges to determine eligibility, but they can also assist during the application process.

To discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, call Buda Law at (813) 322-2832 or contact us online today.