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What is pretrial diversion?

Just because you receive criminal charges does not mean you necessarily have to receive a conviction or even undergo a trial at all. While it is not always obtainable, prosecutors generally retain the power to offer a suspect a pretrial diversion, which allows a suspect to make up for alleged defenses without undergoing a criminal trial or receiving a conviction.

Such options are generally possible in instances where a charge is relatively minor or does not have many victims. In these instances, a suspect agrees to some alternative solution to a conviction, such as community service or a rehabilitation program of some kind.

If a particular crime does involve a victim, a prosecutor may have to secure the victim's consent before allowing a pretrial diversion. Even if a prosecutor allows a pretrial diversion, the judge assigned to the case may still hold the power to deny it. Contrastingly, a judge may also suggest a pretrial diversion instead of following a prosecutor's recommendation, or may set the terms of a diversion that another party suggests.

Pretrial diversion often entails a suspect agreeing to some sort of program that requires acknowledgement of some violation, but does not involve criminal charges or marks on a suspect's criminal record.

If you face criminal charges as a tourist, a pretrial diversion is certainly worth considering. If your circumstances qualify, you may find opportunities to address your charges without the complications of a criminal trial and possible conviction. The guidance of an experienced attorney can help you assess your charges and the options you have to protect your rights and priorities.

Source: FindLaw, "Deferred Adjudication / Pretrial Diversion," accessed Jan. 26, 2018

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