Many people facing criminal charges are surprised to learn that many prosecutors and judges are willing to consider alternatives to traditional sentencing, depending on the nature of the alleged offense and the other options available. These alternatives are known as pretrial diversions, and may remove a suspect from criminal prosecution before a trial takes place, allowing the suspect to participate in some other form of restitution for the alleged offense without receiving a conviction.
Under a pretrial diversion, a prosecutor or judge may agree to drop charges against a defendant in return for the defendant's willing participation in some alternative punishment or rehabilitation. A very common version of this process occurs anytime a driver attends traffic school to void a traffic ticket.
Pretrial diversions are even available in some instances where a defendant faces charges that include a victim. In these cases, the prosecutor must generally obtain the permission of the victim before agreeing to the diversion. These diversions generally include some form of community service or participation in rehabilitation.
It is also important to understand that these solutions are not a quick fix to your charges. While you may be able to avoid criminal convictions with a pretrial diversion, you must participate in the program for a set amount of time. While the specifics may vary from case to case, misdemeanor diversion programs usually last between six months and one year, whereas felony diversion programs often last one to two years.
If you believe that your drunk driving charges may qualify for a pretrial diversion, or if you are not sure, an experienced defense attorney can help you assess your charges and identify the legal options you have available to protect your rights.
Source: FindLaw, "Deferred Adjudication / Pretrial Diversion," accessed Jan. 26, 2018