For both a defendant and the defendant’s attorney, the perfect outcome of a criminal prosecution is a dismissal of all the charges against the defendant. Short of that, the next best thing is an acquittal. An acquittal means the State failed to present sufficient evidence of your guilt to convince the jury to find you guilty. There are times, however, when avoiding a guilty verdict is all but impossible. When this is the case, the best thing to do is try and limit the damage. One way is to try and get into a diversion program because if you successfully complete the program you may be able to avoid a conviction on your permanent record. If you are currently facing criminal charges in the State of Nebraska, you may be wondering if your criminal defense attorney can get you into a diversion program if you realize that taking your case to trial is not a good idea. Given the fact that every diversion program is a little different, and every defendant unique, it is best to consult with your Nebraska criminal defense attorney about your eligibility for a diversion program. However, it may also help to know more about the diversion option.
What Is a Diversion Program?
Though it may not always appear so to a defendant, the American criminal justice system is supposed to focus not just on punishment but on rehabilitation. Diversion programs fulfill that requirement. The idea is that such a program “diverts” the defendant away from a conviction and, instead, gives the defendant a second chance. A diversion program is typically similar to being on probation but without first being convicted of a crime. Usually, the participant is required to report to a caseworker on a regular basis as well as fulfill other requirements, such as attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation class or consult with a doctor regarding a mental illness.
How Do Diversion Programs Work?
Diversion programs can have very different eligibility requirements as well as completion requirements, though there are some similarities. Typically, an individual must first meet the basic eligibility requirements. These might focus on the type of offense involved and the defendant’s criminal background or lack thereof. Because most diversion programs are focused on helping a specific type of offender, such as a drug addict, the offense involved is usually important. Some programs also take a variety of offenses but will only accept misdemeanors. A defendant’s criminal background is taken into consideration because most diversion programs will not accept violent offenders.
The most important aspect of a diversion program is that if the defendant successfully completes the program the State will dismiss the charges against the defendant, meaning there will not be a conviction on your record if you successfully complete a diversion program. Technically, this can work in one of two ways. The first is considered “pretrial” diversion. In these types of diversion programs, the defendant is not required to admit guilt when signing up for the program. If the defendant fails to complete the diversion program, the underlying case simply picks up where it left off. The second type of program does require the defendant to admit guilt; however, sentencing is withheld pending the completion of the diversion program. If the defendant fails to complete the diversion program, the court will go straight to sentencing.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me with a Diversion Program?
Criminal defense attorneys are aware of all the various diversion programs available and the eligibility requirements for each. If your attorney believes you would qualify for a program, your attorney may recommend you to the prosecuting attorney and/or the judge. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to get you admitted to a diversion program and help you successfully complete the program, thereby avoiding a criminal conviction.
If you have been charged with a crime in the State of Nebraska, it is certainly in your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.