Negotiating Plea Deals

Should You Accept a Diversion Program If You Are Innocent?

by Flenn Lane

When the police have good reason to believe a person committed a crime, they have the right to arrest the person. This person will have to appear before the local court and may have to go through a trial for the alleged crime. If this recently happened to you for a crime you did not even commit, you may wonder how you should go about handling this situation, especially if the court wants to offer you a diversion program for the crime. Here are several things you should know if this is the first time you are being charged with a crime.

The Prosecution Decides Whether or Not to Pursue the Case

In most criminal cases, the decision to pursue charges on a person lies in the hands of the prosecutor. The prosecutor is a lawyer that works for the state, and he or she makes this decision by reviewing the case and looking at the defendant's criminal history. If the case is serious and has evidence to prove that the person might be guilty, the prosecutor will proceed with the case. If there is no evidence or if the prosecutor does not believe the crime should be addressed at this point, he or she can make the decision to drop the case.

Prosecutors also have the option of offering a diversion program to a person that has been charged with a crime. This option is often used for people who have never been convicted of crimes or for crimes that are not very serious in nature.

How a Diversion Program Works

When a prosecutor chooses to offer a diversion program, you will find out about this when you go to your court hearing. The prosecutor will tell the judge that he or she is offering this program to you, and you have the right to accept it or deny it. Accepting this offer does not necessarily mean you are admitting guilt to the crime. In fact, if you accept the offer and complete the requirements of the offer, the charges will be dropped. You will not have to go to court for the charges, and you will have no further penalties or punishments for it.

If you decline the offer, you will most likely have to go through a court trial, and your results will be left in the hands of the judge or jury. If you are found guilty, you will have penalties to pay.

With a diversion program, you will likely be instructed by the court to complete certain requirements. These requirements serve as a punishment for the crime you allegedly committed, but they are typically fairly easy to complete. They might include completing community service for a certain length of time or attending classes to help you learn something. You may also have to stay out of legal trouble for a certain length of time.

If you accept the offer and do everything you are supposed to do, your charges will be dropped. If you accept the offer and do not complete the requirements, the charges will still be there, and you will have to go through a trial to determine your fate.

Why It's Often Better To Accept It

Accepting a diversion-program offer is usually the best option you have, but you should always talk to a criminal-defense attorney before making your decision. While you will have to complete steps for the diversion program, you will also have an easy way to get the charges dropped.

If you are not sure what to expect from your criminal trial, or to learn more about diversion programs, contact a criminal-defense attorney today. Click here for more info about how a defense attorney can help you.