Georgia Pretrial Diversion Program
For first time offenders, there are many options available to you as an alternative to a criminal sentence. One of those options in Georgia is called a pretrial diversion program or just a diversion program. They are offered to first-time offenders who have not previously been arrested or convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony offense. These programs are great options, and it is important to do your research before you plead guilty. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys are very familiar with pretrial diversion programs and know who is eligible and how to apply for the program. We want you to take advantage of these programs so that you won't have anything on your record. If you or a loved one are a first time offender and need help in presenting your case for why you should be accepted, we can help. We are here 24/7 including nights, weekends, and holidays and would be happy to assist you with your case.
What is the Purpose of a Diversion Program?
Georgia established the Pretrial Intervention and Diversion Program under O.C.G.A. §15-18-80 to provide an alternative to prosecuting offenders in the criminal justice system. Their hopes were to help reform offenders and help them not make mistakes in the future instead of just sending them off to prison where they may not learn anything. Furthermore, these programs often require the offender to attend counseling sessions or take life skill classes that help prepare them to be a successful member of society. Georgia believes it is important to try and help offenders not become repeat offenders.
Upon successful completion of a pretrial diversion program, the judge will sign a dismissal order in the offender's case. The major benefit is that one can maintain a clean criminal history by completing the program
Who is Eligible for Pretrial Diversion Programs in Georgia?
As stated previously, typically first-time offenders can apply for a diversion program. They must not have been arrested before or been convicted of a misdemeanor felony offense previously. However, if they have been convicted of a minor traffic offense before, that will generally not disqualify them from a diversion program. Some jurisdictions will still allow people to participate even though they were arrested but were never convicted.
Every court has their own standard, and that is why it is important to seek the help of attorneys who are familiar with the county in which you have been charged. Even if you think that you will not be able to get into the program, your Lawyer may know of where the court allows exceptions to be made. Another requirement for being accepted into a pretrial diversion program is that you must not have already participated in any other program or be facing any other pending charges. The prosecuting attorney for the program considers things such as but not limited to:
- The nature of the crime;
- The prior arrest record of the offender;
- The notification and response of the victim.
How do you Apply for Diversion?
Some courts require people to hire an attorney before they can participate in a diversion program. The prosecutor is the person who will decide whether or not pretrial diversion is an appropriate option and an attorney will often work with them to negotiate out the details. Some prosecutors refuse to discuss diversion programs with offenders who try and represent themselves. Neither the prosecutor nor the judge can give legal advice, so it is important to hire someone to help you through the process.
Applying for a diversion program requires the offender to fill out an application package. Once it is completed, it is turned into the prosecutor who reviews the request and determines whether the case is suitable for a diversion program.
If the case is deemed appropriate for a diversion program, then the offender will meet with a diversion coordinator who will monitor them throughout the program to make sure they are in compliance with the rules and procedures.
What Does the Program Entail and How Much Does it Cost?
Each court has their own particular program, but generally, all programs include a program fee and community service. The fee ranges from county to county but will not be more than $1,000.00 and the amount of community service hours depends upon the crime committed and the offender's specific case. It can take months to complete a program. The offender may also have to submit to a professional evaluation, treatment, counseling, or abstinence from drugs and alcohol during the program.
Georgia Pretrial Diversion Programs are great options for first-time offenders, and our offices are here to help make these programs available to you. It is difficult to get in on your own and some courts require that you use an attorney. Contact us today for help with your case.