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Everything You Need to Know About Georgia Pretrial Diversion Program

Are you interested in learning more about how a Georgia Pretrial Diversion can help your case?
You can contact the Waltman Firm for information and advice.

The Marietta Municipal Court at 240 Lemon Street Marietta, GA 30060 is where local traffic violations, some misdemeanors, and other legal issues are handled.

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What Is Pretrial Diversion in Georgia?

You may feel scared or lost if you are charged with a crime in Georgia for the first time. However, many options are available for first-time offenders as an alternative to a criminal sentence in Georgia. One of those options is called a pretrial diversion program. 

A pretrial diversion program is typically offered to first-time offenders with no prior arrest record or a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony offense on their records.

Diversion programs are designed to benefit these individuals and the criminal justice system. These programs can be great options, so researching them before you plead guilty can be beneficial.

Is Pretrial Diversion a Conviction?

A pretrial diversion is not a conviction. Most pretrial diversion programs require defendants to pay fines, attend different classes, perform community service, and undergo a period of supervision. If the whole program is completed successfully and all the requirements are completed, the prosecutor will most likely agree to dismiss the charges against the defendant. That means the pretrial diversion program will not appear as a conviction, and your criminal record will remain clean.

Georgia Pretrial Diversion Program

Georgia law O.C.G.A. §15-18-80 established the Pretrial Intervention and Diversion Program as an alternative to prosecuting offenders and sending them to prison. The goal was to help offenders reform and not make the same mistakes in the future.

Prosecuting attorneys for every judicial circuit are authorized to create and administer an individualized program for a maximum period of twelve months. However, not every type of criminal charge is available for the diversion program. Additionally, certain charges that carry a mandatory minimum sentence of jail or prison time or an offense that can’t be probated can not be accepted into this program.

On the other hand, charges that include misdemeanor shoplifting, misdemeanor possession of marijuana, theft offenses, or underage possession of alcohol can be eligible.

Although every court decides whether a particular criminal charge would be eligible for a diversion program, even if you are charged with a crime that is not eligible, a misdemeanor lawyer may know which court allows exceptions to be made.

Bear in mind that certain Georgia superior courts also have diversion programs for felony charges. That means that hiring a felony lawyer in Marietta as soon as possible may result in a diversion program and dismissal of your charges.

How Long Does Pretrial Diversion Last in GA?

It typically lasts six months. However, the exact length of the pretrial diversion will be determined after evaluating the circumstances of the case in question and an individual charged for the crime.

Disadvantages of Pretrial Diversion Programs

Although pretrial diversion is less burdensome than probation, it can’t result in jail time if the defendant fails to pay or report. Failing to complete pretrial diversion reverts the case to being prosecuted as usual.

How Does Georgia Pretrial Diversion Work?

Georgia Pretrial Diversion Program is generally available to first-time offenders with a clean criminal history. But, even those who have been previously convicted of a minor traffic offense may qualify. In addition, if an individual was arrested but not convicted, they may also qualify for this program.

However, the participant has to be at least 17, and they have to voluntarily apply and agree to be supervised and undergo alcohol and drug screening. Eligibility criteria may also include a requirement that a participant completes a mental health evaluation or some other treatment a diversion coordinator assesses to be needed.

Although every court has specific regulations, all programs generally include community service and a program fee. The fee ranges between counties, but it’s typically no more than $1,000.

Typical diversion program requirements include alcohol and drug abuse evaluation, random drug screens, and any recommended treatments. In addition, the number of community service hours and other additional requirements depend on the type of crime committed and the circumstances surrounding the case.

It is similar to being on probation – the individual periodically reports to some form of supervisor.

How To Get Pretrial Diversion in Georgia?

In order to get a diversion program, the individual has to fill out an application and apply it. After that, the application is turned to the prosecutor, whose job is to review it and determine if the case in question is eligible for a diversion program.

If it is, the applicant will meet with a diversion coordinator. The diversion coordinator’s job will be to ensure the defendant follows the required rules and procedures and monitor the applicant throughout the program.

Although the prosecutor decides if a diversion program is suitable, an attorney can sometimes negotiate another deal.

Some courts demand that individuals who want to participate in a diversion program retain a criminal defense attorney. Since neither the judge nor the prosecutor can give legal advice to the defendant, hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent them and fight for their rights can be a good idea.

Facing criminal charges can be stressful and overwhelming. Let The Waltman Firm explore every option that may be available to you.

What Happens After Pretrial Diversion in Georgia?

After successfully completing the diversion program as a first offender in Georgia, original charges are dismissed. If the prosecutor in your case agrees, charges and the arrest may also be expunged or restricted from public view. However, the expungement process doesn’t occur automatically and has to be initiated by the defendant. Nevertheless, the defendant’s criminal history record will be cleared.

If the defendant is a juvenile, their criminal record can be sealed if they complete all the requirements. If that occurs, there will be no record of the original charges.

But, a juvenile defense attorney may be beneficial to explore if this option is available to your child. If it’s not, Holly Waltman of The Waltman Firm can give you an honest assessment of your case, help the minor understand the consequences of their actions, and fight for their rights throughout the process.

What Happens if You Violate Pretrial Diversion?

An individual who fails to complete the requirements of the diversion programs will face inevitable consequences. That can include failing an alcohol test or a drug screening, committing a new offense while in the program, or missing a court date. You become ineligible for the program and face original charges and penalties if that occurs.

Get the Help of an Attorney in Georgia

Georgia diversion programs can be an excellent option for first-time offenders. However, discussing their advantages and disadvantages with a qualified criminal defense attorney is necessary. Also, specific requirements for participating in a diversion program may differ from county to county. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact The Waltman Firm at 770-293-8502.