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What you should know about pretrial diversion

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Athens-Clarke County pre-arrest diversion program or PAD began on March 1, 2020, according to the Athen-Clarke County website. This program may be available to some people facing criminal charges.

People facing charges can benefit from learning how PAD works and how it may impact them moving forward before they enter into the program.

Who qualifies for pretrial diversion?

The design of pretrial diversion programs is for individuals facing charges for certain non-violent or minor offenses. Eligibility typically hinges on factors like the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history and their willingness to participate in the program. Those charged with more severe crimes or who have prior convictions may not meet the criteria.

How pretrial diversion works

Instead of going through the rigors of a trial and potentially facing a criminal conviction, participants in these programs agree to fulfill specific requirements. These may include community service, counseling, drug testing or educational programs.

The goal of pretrial diversion is twofold. First, it aims to address the underlying issues that may have contributed to the individual’s involvement in the criminal justice system. Second, it provides an opportunity for the individual to avoid a criminal record altogether if he or she successfully completes the program. Upon completion, the prosecution will dismiss the charges, and the individual can avoid the stigma of a conviction.

Background checks and pretrial diversion

One common concern for individuals considering pretrial diversion is whether it will appear on their background checks. The answer typically depends on the specific policies and practices of the agencies conducting the checks.

Pretrial diversion participation may not appear on basic criminal background checks. However, more comprehensive checks may reveal participation. Also, many programs require participants to sign agreements acknowledging that the program’s completion does not guarantee the complete sealing or expungement of their records.

In the realm of criminal justice, pretrial diversion programs stand as a promising alternative to traditional court proceedings. They offer individuals an opportunity to address their actions, make amends and potentially avoid the long-lasting consequences of a criminal record.