If you were recently caught with drugs for the first time, you may be able to get out of going through a court trial if you agree to a diversion program. Before you accept this type of offer, it's important to hire a drug defense attorney to represent you. Your attorney can give you advice and help you make the best decision through this time, and he or she will help you better understand what a diversion program is.
What Is a Diversion Program?
A diversion program is something many courts offer to people that are charged with minor drug crimes. They are often used only for first-time offenders, but they can also be used for repeat offenders if the charges are minor.
When the court offers a diversion program, it means that you are agreeing to accept the drug charge; however, they will drop it off your record if you complete certain requirements. The requirements vary, but they can include:
- Paying fines
- Staying on probation for a certain length of time without getting into any type of criminal trouble during this time
- Performing community service
- Completing certain classes, such as anger management or drug education courses
If you decide to accept the diversion program offered to you, you must complete all necessary requirements. If you fail to do so, you could end up getting arrested and paying additional fines. You could also end up with a permanent criminal charge on your record.
Why Do Courts Offer This?
Courts offer diversion programs for a number of reasons, but here are the main two reasons:
- It gives people another chance—Courts are often more lenient with people that have clear criminal records, which is why they tend to offer these programs to people that have never committed crimes. When the court offers you a diversion program, it is giving you another chance and a way to keep your record clean, but you will have responsibilities to meet to make this work.
- It saves time and money in court—Courts are busy, and they would often rather offer diversion programs for minor crimes simply because this saves time and money for everyone involved.
If you are offered a diversion program, you will still have to go to court, and you will still need a lawyer. Your lawyer will help you understand what the program entails, and he or she can help you decide if this is the right route for you to take.
Do You Have to Accept It?
When the court offers a diversion program, it is a choice. You do not have to accept it if you don't want to; however, it is often better to accept it than to choose the alternative. If you choose not to accept it, the court will probably plan a trial date for you. This means that your case will go before a judge or jury, and they will decide what the outcome is.
One of the main reasons a person would decline a diversion program is if the person was truly innocent. Keep in mind though, that the court will decide whether you are guilty or innocent. If you have plenty of evidence to prove your innocence, this might work out fine for you. On the other hand, if you do not have evidence to prove your innocence, you might end up charged with a drug crime.
Accepting a diversion program is typically the best thing to do. While you will have to complete certain duties for the program, at least it offers a way to get the charges completely dropped. If you accept it and complete your requirements, the court will drop all charges. This is ideal if you plan to apply for a job in the future that requires background checks.
If you are not sure what you should do after being charged with a drug crime, hire a good drug defense attorney. He or she will help you understand your rights and your options.