When Is a Diversion Program an Alternative to Incarceration?

Depending on the type of alleged crime, the circumstances involved and how negotiations go between a defense attorney and the prosecutor, defendants may be able to participate in diversion programs. Diversion programs allow courts to divert cases from trial and substitute classes or counseling. After successful program completion, the prosecution drops the charges. Defendants also avoid acquiring a criminal record.

Recidivism (commission of crimes after prison release) is a concern today, and diversion programs are a solution to overcrowded jails and ineffective consequences for people who commit misdemeanors or minor crimes. Various cities in Arizona have their own diversion programs. Tucson's diversion program allows alleged first-time offenders to participate if they meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • § No previous enrollment in the diversion program
  • § Over age 15 (unless the prosecutor authorizes a younger age)
  • § Only minor injury resulting from current charges and no endangering, threatening or harassing behavior
  • § No use of weapons or a dangerous instrument involved with the charge
  • § No domestic violence, hate crime, police officer victim, graffiti or gang-related activity (unless prosecutor authorizes)

You may have the option of a diversion program for charges such as substance abuse, shoplifting, disorderly conduct and animal code violations. Diversion programs use counseling or classes that are relevant to the situation, such as responsibility classes for theft charges or humane education classes for animal abuse. To complete the program, anyone who harmed another must also make restitution to the victim.

When you face arrest, law firms work on developing the best defense strategy for your case. You can discuss diversion programs with your criminal defense lawyer and find out whether this is a viable option.

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