Being arrested for, or even convicted of, a criminal offense does not necessarily make you a criminal, much less a bad person. Inherently good people make mistakes all the time. Fortunately, even the legal system accounts for the possibility that a defendant might not really deserve to go to jail by offering diversion programs. If you find yourself under arrest and charged with a drug related offense, you will probably want to know if an attorney can get you into a diversion program. Because each case includes a unique set of facts and circumstances, it is always best to consult directly with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your legal options if you have been charged with a crime. In the meantime, however, an Omaha drug defense attorney explains how diversion programs operate and some common eligibility requirements.
What Is a Diversion Program?
A diversion program is an alternative option for prosecutors and/or judges in lieu of convicting a defendant and sentencing him/her to jail or probation. The idea behind diversion is to identify defendants who may have made a one-time mistake, or who might be headed down the wrong path, and who might benefit from some court intervention and guidance instead of punishment. Although the U.S. criminal justice system is purportedly based on rehabilitation, not punishment, the reality is that a defendant who is convicted of a criminal offense will almost always receive very little in the way of rehabilitation efforts. A defendant who is accepted into a diversion program, on the other hand, may actually be rehabilitated if all goes well.
A diversion program can operate in one of two ways. The first requires the defendant to plead guilty to the offense; however, the court withholds adjudication for the duration of the diversion program. If the defendant completes the diversion program, the conviction is never entered and the case is dismissed. If the defendant fails to successfully finish the diversion program, the conviction is entered and sentencing resumes. The other type of diversion does not require the defendant to plead guilty to the underlying offense ahead of time. Instead, the case is essentially put on hold for the duration of the diversion program. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the charges are dismissed. If the defendant fails to complete the program, the prosecution of the defendant continues where it left off.
Am I Eligible for Diversion?
Diversion programs are created at the local or state level, meaning the eligibility requirements can change from one program to the other. Typically, however, diversion programs are only available for less serious, non-violent, offenses (misdemeanors or low-level felonies). In Omaha, you are specifically NOT eligible for the diversion program if you have completed any type of diversion program before, with the exception of traffic classes. If, in Nebraska or any other state, you have a previous misdemeanor conviction, another charge pending, have taken juvenile diversion, or have been in any other diversion programs, you are also NOT eligible for the program.
What Is Required to Complete the Diversion Program?
If you are accepted into the diversion program in Omaha, you will be required to complete a minimum of 24 hours of community work service as a charitable organization. In addition, you will need to complete an Alcohol/Drug/MIP class given by the National Safety Council if your underlying offense is drug related and submit to random drug and alcohol testing. Finally, you must not be arrested for any additional offenses while in the diversion program.
Contact an Omaha Drug Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a drug-related criminal offense in the State of Nebraska and you wish to be considered for a diversion program, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Omaha drug defense attorney right away. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.