If you’ve been arrested on criminal charges, you may want to learn more about Texas pretrial diversion, sometimes called pretrial intervention.
In short, the program is a way to avoid a conviction and have the charges dismissed once you meet certain conditions.
You should discuss your situation with a Texas criminal defense lawyer, but some background information may be helpful.
How Does Pretrial Diversion Work?
The Texas criminal justice system offers pretrial diversion as a way for certain offenders to avoid prosecution, so long as they meet eligibility rules and comply with conditions set by the court. It’s a voluntary program, with pros and cons you need to know before you opt in.
- Pros: You avoid the charges entirely, as they’re dropped once you complete the terms of your pretrial diversion. You avoid prison, so you can continue work and regular activities.
- Cons: You enter a guilty plea as part of the arrangement. If you violate the terms of your pretrial diversion, the prosecutor can resume in pursuing the case against you.
Eligibility and Application
There are some exceptions and flexibility related to the pretrial diversion program, but some of the rules are:
- You must be a first-time offender;
- You cannot have history involving a previous pretrial diversion;
- The crime must be a misdemeanor;
- The offense cannot be one related to family violence;
- Anyone arrested for crimes of a sexual nature is not eligible, unless the charge is prostitution; and,
- You cannot be a documented member of a gang.
If you meet these and other qualifications designated by law, you can apply for pretrial diversion. There are three components for the process:
- The written application and documents that support it, such as your resume, references, school transcripts, list of achievements, and other favorable information;
- You must submit an essay that describes the circumstances surrounding your arrest, along with acceptance that what you did was wrong. Any attempt to deflect blame or make accusations isn’t viewed favorably. A second essay should include a narrative on why you want to avoid jail, such as family responsibilities, career goals, or educational objectives.
- You must participate in an interview with a probation officer, who will ask questions about your written materials and other relevant topics.
What are the Conditions of Pretrial Intervention in Texas?
If your application is accepted, you will be required to comply with certain terms and conditions. The charges against you will be dismissed once you complete the program. Every case is different, but some examples of pretrial diversion requirements may include:
- Completing a designated number of community service hours;
- Attending counseling and/or educational sessions based upon the offense, such as drug or alcohol treatment;
- Avoiding additional criminal activity;
- Regular pre-trial diversion drug testing;
- Reporting to a probation officer; and,
- Many others, depending on your situation.
Talk to a Skilled Texas Criminal Defense Attorney About Pretrial Diversion
Though there are significant benefits to resolving a criminal case through pretrial diversion, it’s important to fully understand how the program works. It’s not the right fit for everyone, and it does have implications for your rights.
For more information, please contact the Law Office of Simer & Tetens to speak with a lawyer about your circumstances.