Recently arrested for the first time? And, for an offense such as shoplifting, disorderly conduct, minor in possession of alcohol, possession of marijuana or other minor drug charges? If so and before you take a plea deal, call Bixon Law—we can look into the facts of your case and determine if you are eligible for a pretrial diversion program. What’s a pretrial diversion program? We’ve broken it down for you below. However, essentially, it is an alternative to being prosecuted and convicted of a crime that states like Georgia allow under the law for certain types of offenses such as those mentioned.
If you are a first-time offender, a pretrial diversion program may the best option for you because having a criminal record can have a devastating impact on your life and livelihood. It can affect your ability to obtain housing, student loans to further your education, future employment and government assistance. The biggest benefit to successfully completing such a program is that you won’t have a conviction on your criminal record.
More About Pretrial Diversion Programs & Who Qualifies…
As you may have concluded by now, most pretrial diversion programs are offered to those who have never been arrested or convicted of any offense whether it be a misdemeanor of a felony. However, there are some minor convictions that may not disqualify a person from a pretrial diversion program, which is why it is important that you consult an attorney. It’s also important to seek the aid of an attorney to advocate on your behalf because some county prosecutors refuse to discuss legal matters with defendants who represent themselves.
In the state of Georgia, Pretrial Diversion Programs are governed by O.C.G.A. §15-18-80, which gives prosecuting attorneys for each judicial circuit the authorization to create and administer pretrial intervention and diversion programs. As it is within a prosecutor’s discretion to charge an individual with a crime, it is also within his or her discretion to approve a person for a pretrial diversion program. Although it varies from county to county, most prosecuting attorneys consider:
(1) The nature of the crime;
(2) The prior arrest record of the offender; and,
(3) The notification and response of the victim.
Further, under Georgia law, the prosecuting attorney is forbidden from accepting any
person into a pretrial diversion program for an offense that provides a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration that cannot be suspended, probated, or deferred. The prosecuting attorney can, however, collect a fee from each person who enters such a program and also collect restitution on behalf of the alleged victim(s).
What if You Do Qualify for a Pretrial Diversion Program…
If the prosecuting attorney in your case determines that you are eligible for a pretrial diversion program then you will more than likely meet with a diversion coordinator who will monitor you for the duration of the program to ensure that you are in compliance with the program’s rules and regulations. In addition, you will likely have to pay a program fee and most programs—although they vary—require participants to do community service, go to counseling, and/or seek treatment if the offense you are charged with involves drugs and alcohol.
What Happens if You Successfully Complete a Pretrial Diversion Program? Or, if You Don’t…
Once you have successfully completed a pretrial diversion program then your case will be dismissed and will not result in a criminal conviction. Although preventing a criminal conviction on your record is the biggest benefit, you will also have the right to apply for a record restriction of the arrest. Any time a person is arrested for any offense in the state of Georgia that information is reported to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) and does become a part of a person’s criminal record. A record restriction will allow you to remove any information related to the offense you were arrested for from your criminal record. However, law enforcement agencies will still be able to see any arrests and charges.
On the other hand, if you are accepted into a pretrial diversion program and do not successfully complete it, the consequences are great—you will then face prosecution of the original charge(s). If you are arrested for new charges while in a pretrial diversion program or fail any administered drug or alcohol tests, you will then become ineligible and—unfortunately—fail the program and face prosecution.
Contact Bixon Law…
In Georgia, there are alternatives to being prosecuted and we are here to help. We don’t want a one-time mistake to ruin your future and can help get you into a pretrial diversion program to preserve your clean criminal history if you are a first-time offender. And, to keep you out of jail! We will work tirelessly to get your case resolved with the best possible outcome. Contact us today for help with your case at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation.