Adults who are arrested for the first time often have a lot to learn about the criminal justice system. They might not even know that there are programs available to them as an alternative to traditional prosecution and sentencing. Fortunately, there are many diversion programs that exist to help adults who get into trouble for the first time avoid harsh penalties and give them a second chance. These programs also help law enforcement officials determine whether someone will return to being a productive member of society after completing their sentence. If you or someone you know has been arrested and might be eligible for a diversion program, here is some information about what they are and where you can find them.
What is a Diversion Program?
A diversion program is a type of alternative sentencing program that allows eligible defendants to avoid a criminal record. Most programs also require participants to fulfill certain requirements, such as community service hours or payment of a fine, as part of the terms of their sentence. Diversion programs are often used in conjunction with other sentencing options, such as deferred entry of judgment or pretrial diversion. Defendants may be referred to diversion programs based on their specific circumstances, such as their criminal history, the type of crime they were charged with, and their current living situation. Many jurisdictions refer to diversion programs by other names, such as deferral programs or alternative prosecution programs. While each program has its own specific rules, most diversion programs allow defendants to avoid prosecution if they successfully complete the terms of their sentence.
How do You Become Eligible for a Diversion Program?
To have a chance of being accepted into a diversion program, you must meet the prerequisites for that program. The exact requirements vary depending on the program and the specifics of your case. Most diversion programs have the following requirements: - You have no prior criminal convictions. - You were charged with a non-violent crime, or a crime that did not cause significant harm. - You were charged with a crime that is not considered a “serious” crime under the law. Beyond that, the specific requirements vary from program to program. Some programs may require you to live in a specific jurisdiction, or have a certain income level, for example. - You have no other circumstances in your life that might make you ineligible, such as a history of mental illness or drug/alcohol addiction.
Advantages of Diversion Programs
They offer a second chance. Diversion programs are designed to help people who lack a criminal record get their lives back on track. Many programs have strict rules that participants must follow to remain eligible for the program, so there is a built-in incentive to stay on track.
They are convenient. When you are accepted into a diversion program, you don’t have to travel to the courthouse to attend hearings. If the program has any requirements, such as community service hours, you can usually complete them from your home.
They are cost-effective. Diversion programs cost less than traditional prosecution, and they allow law enforcement to redirect their resources to focus on more serious crimes.
If you are facing criminal charges, you may be able to avoid a conviction by opting for a diversion program instead of traditional prosecution. Many prosecutors will allow you to make this choice, but you will need to check to make sure your specific charges qualify for a diversion program. Advent eLearning provides court-approved online diversion programs with certification when you have successfully completed your course.
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