Pretrial Diversion in New York

Many people assume that when they are charged with a crime there are only two possible outcomes: either they will be found innocent, or they will be convicted as a result of a guilty plea or the outcome of a trial.

In New York, however, a variety of pretrial diversion programs are available as a third option to people who are facing minor charges and who have no significant criminal history. The courts designate pretrial diversion in New York to provide a more productive means of serving justice that is intended to improve the lives of the accused.

The successful completion of a pretrial diversion program in New York can result in charges being dropped and the accused having no criminal record. A dedicated defense attorney could help you explore the options available to you, push for the use of a diversion program in court, and work with you to ensure that you complete your program successfully.

What is a Pretrial Diversion Program?

New York recognizes the fact that not every person accused of a crime is a criminal. The state also recognizes the fact that incarceration is not an appropriate means of punishment for some. Especially for young people facing misdemeanor charges and adults with no prior criminal record, a pretrial diversion program may be a suitable resolution to their case.

To take advantage of pretrial diversion in New York, a defendant must first agree to admit guilt. Instead of sentencing that person, the court would then order them to participate in a program that is tailored to the facts of their case. For example, if the charges involve drug possession, an appropriate pretrial diversion program typically may involve a substance abuse evaluation, detox, and counseling.

All the while, the defendant is assigned a probation officer who ensures that all the terms of the program are met. If they meet all the terms of their agreement, the charges are dropped, the court case comes to an end, and the incident is not added to the person’s record.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Pretrial Diversion

The main benefit to a New York pretrial diversion program is that it can allow someone to avoid a criminal conviction and the subsequent blemishes it may leave on their personal and professional lives. They may also be able to avoid embarrassing courtroom appearances, provided they admit that they have a problem and take positive steps toward finding a solution. Indeed, many courts endorse these programs as a more modern way of serving justice for minor crimes.

However, these programs are not without their risks. Most of these programs must be completed at the defendant’s expense. In addition, more intensive programs may require in-house treatment that may take someone out of their home and daily routine. Finally, if a person fails to meet any of the terms of their program, the case is sent back to court, and prosecutors may then be incentivized to push for harsh sentences upon conviction.

Pretrial Diversion Programs in New York May Be An Option

Not every criminal allegation needs to result in a lengthy and stressful trial. Indeed, for some first-time offenders, New York courts encourage the use of pretrial diversion programs when applicable. These programs offer alternative means for people to pay their debt to society that avoid incarceration and aim to set them back on the right path.

If you were charged with a minor crime you may be able to participate in a pretrial diversion program and see your charges dropped as if your arrest never happened. This may provide a powerful tool for you to atone for your mistakes and move on with your life. Get in touch with a local attorney today to start exploring whether pretrial diversion in New York is right for you.