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What is a pretrial diversion program?

Facing criminal charges can be overwhelming in and of itself, and even thinking about a trial that puts one’s future at risk could create even more stress. Many people facing criminal charges might think that going to trial is the only way to try and fight the criminal charges and keep their record clear.

However, a pretrial diversion program might be able to benefit some individuals and help them avoid a criminal conviction altogether.

What is a pretrial diversion?

Kentuckians facing misdemeanors or minor felonies, such as a Class D felony, can file for a Pretrial Diversion Order after their indictment. If the judge grants the order, then individuals can forgo a trial and participate in a pretrial diversion program, which can help them:

  1. Avoid jail time, which, for a Class D felony, could be up to five years; and
  2. Potentially remove any charges from their criminal record.

These programs often require individuals to attend rehabilitation or participate in community service. It is a contract between the courts and the individual, that they will complete the services and the program to avoid criminal penalties.

However, it is important to note that many individuals get into such programs with the help of defense attorneys negotiating on their behalf.

Individuals must qualify for a pretrial diversion program

To participate in a pretrial diversion program, individuals must meet specific conditions. They must have little or no criminal history, and they often must be facing misdemeanor or Class D felony charges.

For example, it is common for individuals to participate in these programs if they face charges such as:

  • Alcohol charges, including possession by a minor;
  • Felony drug possession, including marijuana possession; and
  • Charges such as trespassing or shoplifting.

Treat the program similar to probation

During the pretrial diversion period, individuals must be careful. Like in probation, they should be sure to:

  • Avoid violating the terms outlined in the order;
  • Adhere to the rules their probation officer provides; and
  • Avoid using drugs or alcohol, since they may receive random testing.

It is helpful for individuals to understand all of the options they have when they are charged with a crime, so they can protect their future.