Although there are certainly people who intentionally break the law, and even some who qualify as “career criminals,” a significant percentage of defendants are decent people who had a momentary lapse in judgment or who felt compelled by circumstances to commit the crime for which they are charged. In other words, not everyone who commits a crime deserves to suffer a lifetime of consequences as a result. Most people would agree, for example, that someone who has been arrested and charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana is not a hardened criminal who deserves to spend time in prison. If that describes your situation, a marijuana possession attorney explains Nebraska’s diversion program and how you might benefit from acceptance into a diversion program.
Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
If you were recently arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you are undoubtedly worried about the outcome of your case, and with good reason. In today’s world, a criminal conviction, even for a relatively minor offense such as possession of marijuana, will typically have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences. Moreover, it is often the non-judicial consequences of a criminal conviction that are the most worrisome. You may face the threat of being sentenced to a period of incarceration and/or probational by the judge as a result of a conviction; however, you will also face additional non-judicial ramifications of a conviction, such as:
- Loss of a current job
- Disqualification for future employment
- Disciplinary action if you hold a professional license
- Disqualification for immigration change of status
- Disqualification for housing
- Ineligibility for some state and/or federal assistance programs
- Loss of driving privileges
- Interference with custody and/or visitation with minor children
What Is a Diversion Program?
Even prosecutors and judges realize that not everyone who violates a law should suffer the harsh consequences of a criminal conviction. A diversion program offers a defendant a second chance and offers prosecutors and judges an option 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. If a defendant successfully completes a diversion program, the charge against him/her will be dismissed by the prosecutor’s office, thereby avoiding a conviction on his/her permanent record.
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 a prior felony conviction
- Cannot have other charges pending
- Usually, the prosecutor’s office is also required to agree to the diversion
Note that 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?
Because diversion programs are administered by the courts and/or the county, the requirements for successfully completing a diversion program can vary from one court/county to another. In addition, the court and/or prosecutor’s office may tailor the requirements to fir the offense. In Omaha, for example, 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 a Marijuana Possession Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced Nebraska marijuana possession attorney as soon as possible about the possibility of entering a diversion program if you think you might qualify. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.