The predominant objective for most people who face a criminal charge is to prevent a conviction. Given that dismissals are highly uncommon in criminal cases and jury verdicts are uncertain, delayed adjudication programs such as diversion are an excellent way to resolve a criminal case and prevent a criminal conviction.
Diversion is a plea arrangement between the prosecution and defense whereby the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the charge if the defendant agrees to certain requirements. Diversion pleas typically require an initial guilty plea. The plea is held in abeyance until the case is ultimately resolved. When the defendant pleads guilty, the judge does not find the defendant guilty. Instead, the judge holds the defendant's guilty plea and orders the defendant to stay out of trouble and comply with all of the rules imposed by the diversion program.
Assuming everything goes smoothly throughout the prescribed period (typically six months), the charge is dismissed. If the defendant, however, receives a new criminal charge or does not follow all of the rules imposed by the court, diversion will be revoked. This could result in a criminal conviction as the defendant has already pled guilty to the charge and has given up his or her rights to a trial.
Most courts throughout Ohio offer diversion programs for misdemeanors and low level felonies. Each diversion program is different. Some courts require special forms, impose filing fees, and may limit diversion to certain offenses. Depending on the particular circumstances of the case and the prosecutor, the rules each person must follow while on diversion will vary. A condition of diversion on a domestic violence charge, for instance, may be completing an anger management course, while a condition of diversion on a public intoxication charge may be completing a drug and alcohol assessment and following up with any recommendations from the assessment. Keep in mind that most diversion terms last for only six months but may be shorter or longer depending on the court.
Diversion is never guaranteed for a first-time offender. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court in which the defendant is charged, or other variables, the prosecutor may not offer diversion. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney will help increase the chances your case is accepted into a diversion program.
The skilled and experienced criminal defense attorneys at Rittgers & Rittgers frequently handle diversion cases. We offer free initial consultations.