What is a Criminal Diversion Program in Arizona?
Being convicted of a misdemeanor for the first time can be very scary because of the implications. Some people who commit a single misdemeanor, however, could be eligible for inclusion in an Arizona diversion program.
Diversion programs are created to provide an alternative to jail time. There are specific conditions for inclusion in a diversion program and people who commit certain types of misdemeanors will be deprived of such an opportunity. Your criminal defense attorney will give you a better idea about the option and what it entails.
An Overview of Arizona Misdemeanor Diversion Programs
Diversion programs provide an alternative to jail time for those who commit a first-time misdemeanor. Minor felonies could also result in a person qualifying for the diversion program.
In Arizona, there are several kinds of diversion programs – education, substance abuse counseling and treatment and life skills programs. The aim of the program is to identify the cause of the misdemeanor, the contributing factors and the ways in which a person can be assisted so that they don’t break the law again in the future.
Who’s Eligible for Inclusion in a Diversion Program
Diversion programs are available to a specific set of people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor. The first and the most important prerequisite for inclusion is that the convict has a clear previous criminal record.
Inclusion in a diversion program isn’t going to be possible for those who have participated in another diversion program over the course of five years.
In addition, the crime shouldn’t be violent in nature for the convict to qualify for diversion program inclusion.
In Arizona, diversion programs are not available to those who commit motor vehicle violations. Thus, you cannot be convicted of DUI and not serve jail time. Arizona is known for its serious penalties for motor vehicle offenses, hence the diversion programs are not an option.
What Happens during Participation in the Diversion Program?
Qualifying defendants are given a chance to enter into a plea agreement that involves participation in a diversion program. After all of the plea agreement terms and conditions are satisfied, the case will be entirely dismissed.
The diversion program process itself depends on the kind. If the crime you committed has a victim, you may have to make restitution. Court fees and additional charges could also apply and these will have to be paid in full for the diversion program conditions to be satisfied.
A diversion program can last from a few months to one year or even longer. Counseling, treatments, addressing problematic behaviors and punitive measures could all be a part of the program.
Many diversion program participants have to agree to attend counseling, vocational training or group therapy sessions.
After all of these processes are finalized, the defendant will once again go to court. If the court concludes all parts of the program are satisfied, the case is dismissed. In some instances, defendants can seek opportunities to expunge or seal the case records.
How Can I Let the Court Know I’m Interested in a Diversion Program?
The best way to start the process is through your attorney.
Ask your lawyer about alternatives to jail time and whether you qualify for those. If you do, your lawyer will initiate the process and submit all of the necessary plea bargain documentation.
In essence, you’ll have to confirm in court the fact that you’re asking for diversion. Your verbal statement, however, does not mean a diversion is already granted.
Before a final diversion hearing takes place, you could be asked to meet with a diversion coordinator. The aim here is to shed more light on the program, its terms and conditions. Once you have clarity on all of the details, you can move forward with initiating the diversion enrollment process.
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