Florida has numerous kinds of diversion programs, each of which is aimed to move your case out of the criminal justice system, and “divert” it into a more probationary system. However, not everyone is eligible for a diversion program, and not every offense can be diverted out of court. Additionally, each county offers a slightly different set of diversionary programs. In most of them, though, choosing a diversion program over a traditional path through the court system often requires a guilty plea.
Discussing your options with a criminal defense lawyer like John V. Moore before making such an important decision can help you make an informed one that preserves your rights and future.
Juvenile Diversion Programs in Florida
One of the more common types of offense where diversion is offered is when the defendant is a juvenile under the age of 18. When a juvenile is facing a misdemeanor or a third-degree felony for a non-violent offense and has no prior convictions, they can be offered diversion as an alternative to the criminal justice system. Youth under 12 can receive an offer of diversion for any level offense.
In these cases, diversion often involves therapy programs and volunteering that is meant to deal with the root causes of the defendant's conduct. Successful completion of the programs leads to a refusal to prosecute the underlying offense.
Diversion for Domestic Violence Cases
A defendant in a domestic violence case involving assault or battery can participate in the eight-month Batterer's Intervention Program, based on the specifics of their alleged offense. The alleged victim must also consent to the diversionary program, rather than a traditional prosecution.
Once complete, the domestic violence charge is dropped and the plea vacated. The defendant can then file a petition to expunge their record with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Pre-Trial Diversion Programs for Misdemeanors and Felonies
Diversion programs also exist for first-time offenders facing misdemeanor and even some felony charges. Only some offenses are eligible for diversion, though, and any prior conviction can make a defendant ineligible.
The Pros and Cons of a Diversion Program
Many of the people who are facing a criminal charge in Florida are ecstatic when they learn that they are eligible for diversion.
Many of them should not be.
Diversion is a risky endeavor that usually involves pleading guilty to the charge you are facing – no matter how good of a case the prosecutor has against you – and committing to an extensive diversion program. Slipping in any of the requirements of that program, no matter how slight the slip is, can send your case right back to the criminal justice system. There, your guilty plea is still in effect, so your case goes right to sentencing.
Criminal Defense Lawyer John Vernon Moore Serves the Accused in Florida
Before accepting an offer of a diversion program, it is essential to talk about your options with a criminal defense lawyer in Florida like John Vernon Moore. Taking diversion is an extremely important decision, and you should make it with a fully-informed idea of what could happen. Call John Vernon Moore at (321) 426-0209 or contact him online.