The US is notorious for putting people in prison. The country makes up for less than 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the incarcerated population of the world.
If you find yourself facing potential jail time, you should do whatever you can to avoid it. If it was a minor offense, you may be in luck.
There are plenty of programs out there for people in your situation, and they are called diversion programs. Let’s talk about what they might be able to do for you.
What Is A Diversion Program?
A diversion program, to put it simply, is a way for somebody who is accused of a crime to seek an alternative to facing jail time. This is even if they are guilty of the crime.
Some people being charged may be eligible for certain diversion programs that could be used as an alternative to a prison sentence, or even facing charges at all.
Common circumstances for eligibility could be somebody who is addicted to drugs and facing possession charges choosing to attend a rehabilitation program rather than facing charges and risking jail time. There are two different types of diversion programs, but both have to happen before a trial. The option will no longer be on the table if you are found guilty.
A precharge diversion is where a prosecutor offers an alternative program to a jail sentence before charges are even put forward. The benefit of this route is that the alleged offender can opt out of having an offense or even charges appear on their record, which will help avoid hindrances with job seeking and other activities.
If you are not offered a precharge diversion by a prosecutor, speak to your legal defense and see if one can be put on the table before proceeding.
A pretrial diversion is one that comes after charges have been placed, but before a trial is set to begin. While this isn’t the ideal circumstance, considering charges likely appearing on your record, it is the more common type of diversion program.
However, if the diversion program is completed, the charges will be dropped. The right legal defense will even have it removed from your record.
Who Is Eligible?
While circumstances vary widely depending on the nature of the alleged offense, the prosecution, along with other factors, there are some common types of diversion programs that are offered. Here are a few common examples.
In many cases, somebody who is caught speeding too many times, or is caught with a more serious charge like reckless driving, can be offered a diversion program.
You’ve probably heard of “traffic school”, which is a very common diversion program for violations of this nature. Alleged offenders will have to complete an online or in-person course to review driving rules, safe habits, and best practices on the road.
Shoplifting Or Petty Theft Violations
These are very common violations that could easily overcrowd our jails if there were no diversion programs available. These will include theft at the misdemeanor level, and alleged offenders who agree to participate in a program can be offered a second chance.
We’re all familiar with community service hours. This could easily be the diversion program offered for this type of offense.
Juvenile Diversion Programs
Most would agree that children deserve a second chance in most cases, and shouldn’t be locked up for breaking certain laws. That’s the logic behind these programs. This could be the choice of the prosecutor, defense, parents or guardians, or the juvenile themselves who advocate for these types of programs.
There are juvenile diversion programs for all sorts of alleged crimes, and they are specifically designed to get adolescents back on the right track toward success.
How To Find A Diversion Program
Nobody wants to spend time in jail if they don’t have to, so you should seek any alternative you can find.
If you were offered the option for a diversion program, or you would like your defense to put one on the table, find the right diversion program for you and see if you can make it work.
How Does A Diversion Program Work?
Let’s make this clear right away, every program will be different. This means you should do your research beforehand and make sure you know what you’re getting into. However, they all have one thing in common, they’re better than prison.
A diversion program works by letting you maintain your life while serving a certain amount of hours in a program. If it’s community service, this could be picking up trash along the highway or helping out at a community garden for a few hours every month until the hours are completed.
If it was a drug offense, it could be a 12-step program that you attend once a week, or a 60 day stay in rehab, depending on the nature of the offense.
Again, it will vary from offense to offense and program to program. Do your research for your specific needs.
Is It Right For Me?
While every program and every individual is different, a diversion program is a far safer option than facing a jail sentence, especially if it will leave you with a record.
If you are concerned for a loved one who may be facing jail time for drug addiction, find out how to intervene and get them the treatment they need so they don’t have to go to jail.