A single mistake can affect someone for a lifetime. Unfortunate consequences like losing a job or home, spending time in jail, and having potential employers ask questions about a marred record can haunt someone long after his or her lesson is learned. If you are soon to be charged with a misdemeanor or other nonviolent crime, you could potentially avoid the above consequences and qualify for something called pretrial diversion. Available in most states, pretrial diversions can save you many unwanted headaches, especially when you have a defense attorney to help guide you through the terms of the deal.
A Possible Alternative
Pretrial diversion, or pretrial intervention, removes you from the prosecution process and sets you on a track where your record may be lessened or expunged on the condition you complete some sort of rehabilitation and/or community service. The idea behind a pretrial diversion is to divert simpler, nonviolent crimes away from the judicial system to lessen the load on the courts and to allow first-time or low-level offenders a way out of having a criminal record. While in theory this is a great idea, the process has become so convoluted that you should always navigate these legal waters with the help of a criminal attorney.
Qualifications for a Pretrial Diversion
Having the right kind of case for a pretrial diversion depends greatly on where you live and what kind of deal your attorney can get. Many times the option for a pretrial diversion has to be offered by the prosecution, and if the prosecution does not do this then your attorney will have to ask for one. Qualifications also vary depending on what state you live in, and even what county in that state.
If you think pretrial diversions might be too good to be true, you could be right. Some counties, like Cook County in Illinois, require zero fees to be eligible for a pretrial diversion, relying on people in the justice system to use discretion for who qualifies. But others—many in fact, all over the country—require the defendant to pay fees, and if they are not able to do so they are simply put into the prosecution pipeline.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
With so much of your future at stake, hiring a criminal defense attorney is a worthwhile investment. Pretrial diversions are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on your geographical area and the alleged crime, you may qualify for pretrial diversion or not, and you can only be sure you’re getting the best deal if you have a legal professional aiding you.