What is a Diversion?

Many people who have committed their first criminal offense find themselves eligible for a diversion. A diversion is an agreement between the State and a criminal defendant that essentially says, “If you pay a fee and do either some community service, or a class, the State will dismiss your case.” A diversion is almost always a good option if it is available. In most cases, you will need an attorney to negotiate this on your behalf. Usually, diversions are such a good deal that people will take them even if they are innocent. The reason for this is that diversions guarantee that the case will be dismissed. Even if you have a strong defense, you never know what can happen at trial.

The first question to consider is whether someone is even eligible for a diversion to begin with. Each county has their own diversion program and each county sets their own parameters for admittance to their program. A common prerequisite is that you have no prior criminal convictions. Prior arrests can be acceptable so long as the cases were dismissed.

Another consideration will be the offense with which you have been charged. Misdemeanors such as theft, criminal mischief (minor damage to another’s property), trespass, possession of marijuana, public intoxication, and disorderly conduct are usually eligible for diversion. Offenses that involve any kind of violence, threat of violence, or the presence of a firearm are almost never eligible for diversion. Cases involving driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are also usually not eligible.

Whether or not a diversion is offered in any criminal case is totally within the discretion of the county prosecutor. There are no specific laws dictating when one should or should not be offered. Many people feel like their case should be handled via diversion, but unfortunately, if the county prosecutor doesn’t agree, then there is not much you can do. Frequently, having an attorney to negotiate a diversion for you is your best bet.

Once a diversion is offered, there is usually a fee to pay and some work to be done before the case is dismissed. The usual court fees are around $300 to $400. Some counties also require some kind of class. For example, a diversion on a shoplifting case will usually result in an anti-theft class being required. Some counties will also require community service work. Finally, a promise not to get in any more trouble for one year from the filing of the agreement. Once all of these are complete, the State will dismiss the case. If someone fails their diversion, then the State will proceed with prosecution of the original charges and any fund paid will be forfeited.

Reach out to the experienced attorneys at Banks and Brower (317) 870-0019 today. We can answer any questions you may have regarding this article, or any other criminal matter. If you have a criminal matter we would love the opportunity to try to negotiate a diversion on your behalf.