Were you recently arrested and charged with a drug related criminal offense in the State of Nebraska? If so, you are undoubtedly worried that your arrest will eventually lead to a conviction. In today’s electronic age, a substance abuse conviction on your record is easily accessible to any member of the general public. As a result, that conviction may have far-reaching and long-lasting negative consequences. There may be a way to avoid that conviction without the risk of a trial. A Nebraska drug defense lawyer explains how and when a diversion program might be an option as well as the benefits of successfully completing a diversion program.
The Non-Judicial Consequence’s of Criminal Conviction
When most people think in terms of the negative consequences of a criminal conviction, they are referring to the judicially imposed sentence handed by the court. While those penalties can certainly be harsh, the non-judicial consequences of a criminal conviction can sometimes be even more troubling, particularly when the conviction is drug related. Some of the potential non-judicial consequences of a drug related criminal conviction include:
- Loss of employment
- Disqualification for future employment opportunities
- Discipline if you hold a professional license
- Denial of housing
- Disqualification for federal student aid for higher education
- Disqualification for federal benefits such as SNAP (food stamps)
- Interference with custody or visitation with minor children
- Loss of eligibility for immigration change of status or even deportation
Avoiding a Conviction by Acquittal
One way to avoid a conviction is by taking your case to trial and securing an acquittal. No matter how weak the State’s case appears to be, however, there is never a guarantee of victory at trial. You could invest a considerable amount of time and money into your case and end up with a guilty verdict at the end anyway simply because you ended up with a jury that was biased toward the prosecution. Sometimes, taking a case to trial is the only possible way to avoid a conviction; however, in some cases, entering into a diversion program presents another option.
What Is a Diversion Program?
A diversion program offers a defendant the opportunity to avoid a permanent conviction on his/her record by agreeing to comply with the terms of the program for a specified period of time after which the original charges will be dismissed. In essence, a diversion program is similar to being on probation, but before being sentenced instead of after. The types of diversion programs offered, and the terms of the program, are decided by the prosecutor’s office or the judiciary, depending on the state, or on the individual counties within a state. In addition, some diversion programs require a defendant to plead guilty prior to entering into the program while others do not. The difference is that if you are required to plead guilty prior to entering into the program, and then fail to successfully complete the program, you go straight to sentencing for the original offense. If you have not yet pleaded guilty, and you fail to successfully complete the diversion program, your case will resume where it left off.
Eligibility for Diversion Programs
In the State of Nebraska, eligibility for diversion programs varies by county; however, some of the most common eligibility criteria include:
- Only non-violent misdemeanors and minor felonies are eligible
- Cannot have participated in diversion before
- Cannot have prior felony conviction
- Cannot have other charges pending
Typically, the prosecutor’s office must agree to your participation in a diversion program as well.
Diversion Program Requirements
Although the requirements may vary, most diversion programs last 6-18 months, during which time you will be under court supervision. You will likely have to complete a specific number of community service hours and attend a class or treatment if you have a substance abuse problem. While in the diversion program, you must report to an official as directed and will be subject to random drug and alcohol screening. If you successfully complete the diversion program, the charge against you will be dismissed by the prosecutor’s office, thereby avoiding a conviction.
Contact a Drug Defense Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a drug related criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced drug defense lawyer. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.