Being arrested and accused of a crime does not necessarily mean you will have a criminal conviction on your record. One way to avoid having a criminal conviction is to beat your case at trial. Another way to avoid having a criminal conviction on you record is to enter into a pretrial diversion program that may be offered through the local District Attorney’s Office. However, getting into one of these programs is not automatic. Different parishes have different rules about who gets accepted and the program conditions vary from parish to parish.
What is the Pretrial Diversion Program or Pretrial Intervention (PTI)?
The pretrial diversion program is also known as pretrial intervention or DA probation. This program allows first-time offenders of non-violent charges to get their charges dismissed and avoid serving jail or prison time in exchange for either:
- Agreeing with the prosecutor or DA’s office to pay a fine, take some classes, perhaps do community service, and the charges get dismissed; or
- Enroll in the program and get the charges dismissed
The ultimate goal of the pretrial diversion program is to keep first-time non-violent offenders out of the criminal justice system by diverting them to get the rehabilitation treatment they need to prevent them from committing future criminal charges.
Does the Defendant Have to Plead Guilty To Participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program?
No, the defendant would not have to plead guilty to be admitted to the pretrial diversion program.
Who is Eligible for the Pretrial Diversion Program?
However, the specific conditions that a defendant must meet to gain eligibility for the pretrial diversion program are as follows:
- The charge is a non-violent offense.
- The defendant has no prior felony convictions.
- The defendant does not have any or more than one prior misdemeanor conviction, of which the misdemeanor conviction must not be a violent crime or drug-related or was not an original felony charge that is reduced to a misdemeanor.
- The current charge is not the same as the initial misdemeanor charge.
- The defendant has not previously completed the pretrial diversion program.
- The defendant has not previously been terminated or rejected from the pretrial diversion program. An exception is if the defendant was dismissed from the program because they could not be located due to miscommunication.
- The defendant has no outstanding warrants or charges.
- The victim has approved the defendant’s admission to the pretrial diversion program.
Are Eligible Defendants Automatically Offered to Participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program?
The defendant has no absolute right to get offered or be admitted to the pretrial diversion program even if they are eligible. Instead, it is solely up to the prosecutor’s office to provide a defendant an opportunity to participate in the program.
The prosecutor evaluates each case individually and assesses numerous factors to determine whether they could extend an offer to the defendant to be admitted to the pretrial diversion program. Some of the factors that the prosecutor may use to evaluate the defendant may include but are not limited to the nature of the crime, any mitigating factors, any prior offenses or criminal history, and the surrounding facts of the case.
Since a defendant could not automatically be offered to participate in the pretrial diversion program, it is valuable to have a reputable and highly experienced criminal attorney to appeal the defendant’s interest to the prosecutor.
How Long is the Pretrial Diversion Program?
Generally, the length of the program lasts between six months to a year. However, the total length of the pretrial diversion program highly depends on the nature of the crime charged to the defendant.
Are There Any Costs for Participating in the Pretrial Diversion Program?
Yes, there are costs associated with participating in the pretrial diversion program, and the defendant must bear these costs. However, if the defendant could prove that they are indigent, then the prosecutor would modify the charges associated with the pretrial diversion program.
How Much Does It Cost to Participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program?
The general costs charged to the defendant to enter the pretrial diversion program are as follows:
- For non-drug-related charges, there is an administration supervision fee of $30 per month, a $35 fee for random drug testing, charges for classes or services the defendant must attend, and any restitution owed. Moreover, there is a $200 enrollment fee for misdemeanors plus $50 for each additional charge and a $100 evaluation charge. There is a $400 enrollment fee for felonies, plus $50 for each additional charge and a $250 evaluation charge.
- For drug-related charges, there is a minimum fee of $35 for the required random drug screening and charges for any classes and services required of the defendant. Specifically for misdemeanor charges, there is a $500 enrollment fee and a $250 drug evaluation fee, whereas there is a $1,000 enrollment fee and a $375 drug evaluation fee for felony charges.
- For DUI/DWI charges, there is a $1,000 enrollment fee, fees for the required alcohol screening and monitoring, charges for any required services or classes imposed on the defendant, and a $30 monthly administrative fee.
Participating in the pretrial diversion program provides a valuable opportunity for a defendant. However, having the chance to be admitted to this program may be difficult since it is strictly up to the prosecutor of the case. Thus, availing of the legal guidance and representation by a reputable criminal lawyer may provide valuable assistance to your cause as they can negotiate with the prosecutor and present reasons that you may be a good candidate for the program.
If you or your loved one has been accused of a charge, and would like to know about the chances of getting into a pretrial diversion program, please call (225) 963-9638, or you can click here to contact us for a free consultation. Our highly experienced criminal lawyers can help you assess your case and represent your interests.