Getting arrested is one of the most stressful and overwhelming experiences. Most people are unaware of their options and need the help of knowledgable representation. If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact an Atlanta Criminal Lawyer. We have over fifty years of combined experience and can explain all of your potential options.
For first time offenders, there are alternative options to a jail or prison sentence. In today's post, I will focus on Pretrial Diversion Program in Georgia. In some jurisdictions, it is referred to as a diversion program.
Pretrial Diversion in Georgia
The Georgia Code outlines pretrial diversion programs as:
(a) The prosecuting attorneys for each judicial circuit of this state shall be authorized to create and administer a Pretrial Intervention and Diversion Program. The prosecuting attorney for state courts, probate courts, magistrate courts, municipal courts, and any other court that hears cases involving a violation of the criminal laws of this state or ordinance violations shall also be authorized to create and administer a Pretrial Intervention and Diversion Program for offenses within the jurisdiction of such courts.
(b) It shall be the purpose of such a program to provide an alternative to prosecuting offenders in the criminal justice system.
(c) Entry into the program shall be at the discretion of the prosecuting attorney based upon written guidelines.
(d) The prosecuting attorney implementing said program shall create written guidelines for acceptance into and administration of the program. These guidelines shall include, but are not limited to, consideration of the following:
(1) The nature of the crime;
(2) The prior arrest record of the offender; and
(3) The notification and response of the victim. O.C.G.A. §15-18-80.
The goal behind pretrial diversion is to help reform offenders and help them not make any future mistakes. These pretrial diversion programs often require the offender to attend counseling sessions or take life skill classes that help prepare them to be successful members of society.
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.
As an Atlanta Criminal Attorney, it's important for me to note that it's vital to seek the help of attorneys who are familiar with the jurisdiction (or the county) in which you have been charged.
Each pretrial diversion program is different, and as listed out in the statute above, there are certain requirements that must be met.