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Messina Madson & Kendall Castello, MC Criminal Law Jan. 1, 2021

If you’ve been arrested for a non-violent criminal offense, you can start fresh with a pretrial diversion program. Pursuing admittance to a diversion program can lead to a dismissed case, a cleared record, and healthy, new habits to help you avoid future criminal behavior.

With pretrial diversion, you’re “diverted” out of the criminal courts and into a specified reform program. Here are the top 10 things to know about pretrial diversion:

  1. When you successfully complete a diversion program, your case is dismissed and becomes eligible for expungement (removal from your criminal record).

  2. Diversion programs equip you with new life skills, healthy and productive habits, and tools for overcoming addictions.

  3. You must apply to get into a diversion program, and the window of opportunity is often short, sometimes even prior to indictment.

  4. It is important to note that diversion is a “predisposition” program. This means that you enter the program while the case is still open (before a plea bargain or trial).

  5. While drug diversion is most common, pretrial diversion is expanding into other areas of focus as well, such as:

    • young people

    • people diagnosed with mental illness

    • people charged with Driving While Intoxicated

  6. Diversion programs often have a financial aid component, so make sure to explore those opportunities.

  7. Upon completing the diversion program, a case will NOT be taken off your record unless you or your attorney file the correct paperwork for expungement.

  8. If you hire an attorney, make sure you find out which of the following client services are included in the estimate:

    • Identifying the right diversion program

    • Determining eligibility

    • Assisting in timely application

    • Filing for expungement

  9. When you complete a diversion program, you will be free to pursue education and employment opportunities without the stigma of a criminal record.

  10. If you fail to complete the program, you can be placed back into the usual process in the courts.

Are you ready to explore next steps? Review the FAQs on our Pretrial Diversion page. To find out if you’re eligible for a diversion program, call our office today.


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