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What are Pretrial Interventions and Pretrial Diversions? How Do They Work?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

What are Pretrial Interventions and Pretrial Diversions? How Do They Work?

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Pretrial Interventions and Pretrial Diversions in Texas

When people are charged with a crime, they may expect the worst. Even if they have a lawyer, they may assume that they are going to be facing jail time, lengthy probation and fines. However, in certain criminal cases in Texas, the defendant may be eligible for a pretrial intervention.

A pretrial intervention program is designed to give certain criminal offenders a chance to avoid the long-term consequences and stigma associated with a criminal record. In effect, this kind of intervention is a way for the court to give certain defenders a chance to straighten their life out and avoid future offenses.

How Pretrial Interventions Work

Different counties in Texas may have their own specific rules when it comes to pretrial interventions. Some counties may refer to this kind of intervention as a pretrial diversion, although these are two different names for the same type of program. The terms “intervention” and “diversion” refer to the fact that these programs take effect before a defendant receives a sentence for a criminal charge.

In most cases, a pretrial intervention program will include the following steps:

  1. An eligible defendant will be referred to the program by an Assistant District Attorney
  2. The defendant’s criminal record is examined and an appointment for a meeting is set
  3. The defendant attends the meeting and chooses to follow the program or go to court

Participation in a pretrial diversion program is not mandatory. However, choosing to participate in an intervention program can have significant benefits for a defendant. Although not all defendants will be eligible, those who are may be giving themselves a chance to correct their mistakes.

Pretrial Diversion Eligibility

There are very specific requirements to determine eligibility for a pretrial intervention program in Texas. Assistant District Attorneys may be very selective about who they choose to be given the chance to participate in the program. This is why most of the defendants chosen for the program are young, first-time offenders.

Some of the eligibility requirements can include:

  • The defendant must be a non-violent offender
  • The defendant must be charged with nothing more serious than a misdemeanor offense
  • The defendant must have a clean criminal record
  • The defendant must agree to pay restitution to victims if applicable
  • Defendants charged with non-violent drug offenses may be eligible
  • The defendant must admit their guilt (but not necessarily plead guilty) and agree to participate in the program

If a defendant meets these requirements, they may get a chance to participate in a pretrial diversion program.

Possible Outcomes and Benefits

After agreeing to participate in a pretrial intervention program, the defendant must abide by certain rules. For example, for a period of six months to two years, the defendant may have to report to a probation officer, pay fines and restitution, submit to drug tests and attend group meetings. The defendant may also have to attend counseling sessions and perform community service.

The purpose of these requirements is to inform the defendant of the consequences of their actions while giving them a chance to make amends.

If the defendant follows all of the rules of the program and completes their term of supervision without committing any more offenses, the defendant can receive various benefits. These can include:

  • The initial charges may be dropped
  • A guilty plea and a criminal record can be avoided
  • Jail time can be avoided
  • The defendant may be able to use lessons learned in the program to avoid future charges

Although not all defendants will be eligible for a pretrial diversion program, those who are may be given a second chance to get on the right track. Hiring an attorney may be helpful for a defendant who is hoping to be considered for a pretrial intervention program. A lawyer may be able to contact the district attorney and urge him or her to consider the defendant. A lawyer may also be able to help the defendant understand how to abide by the terms of the intervention so that he or she can follow the rules.

If a person who has been charged with a crime does not know if he or she is eligible for a pretrial diversion program, hiring a lawyer is a good way to find out if such an outcome is possible.

Contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros to discuss your options for Pretrial Interventions or Pretrial Diversions. We can help protect your rights and preserve your freedom. Call 832-752-5972 or email today for a free, confidential consultation.
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