Pretrial diversion is a form of prosecutorial discretion where the prosecutor agrees to divert your case from the criminal court to a diversion program. Think of it as front loaded probation. Some common conditions of pretrial release are community service hours, payment of restitution, fines, taking courses relating to the crime and other conditions. The more serious the offense, the more conditions that are usually imposed. Pretrial diversion is usually not offered for serious or violent offenses or to individuals with criminal histories.
Why would I want pretrial diversion?
There are several benefits to pretrial diversion.
No conviction - If you successfully complete pretrial diversion, the State drops the charges and you are not convicted. You may be eligible get your record expunged.
No risk - Pretrial diversion takes the risk of jail and other possible sentences out of the equation.
Less cost - Defending against a criminal charge is expensive. Attorney costs, expert witness costs, court reporter costs, transcript costs, court costs, fines are all possible costs. Pretrial diversion tends to save you money.
How can I get pretrial diversion?
There's only one way to get pretrial diversion and that is by recommendation of the prosecutor. Many offices have policies relating to who is eligible, based on criminal history, residence in the local community, and type of crime you are charged with. An attorney can call the prosecutor and seek pretrial diversion shortly after arrest or even potentially before arrest in some cases.