In certain situations, those facing criminal charges in the State of Texas may be eligible for pretrial interventions or diversions, and better understanding these alternatives to jail time may help you better understand your legal options. First off, the terms pretrial intervention and pretrial diversion are generally used interchangeably, so there is no reason to get overly attached to or hung up on one over the other.
How Pretrial interventions and Diversions Work
Pretrial interventions and diversions go into effect before a defendant is sentenced for a criminal charge. The steps involved in a pretrial intervention include:
An assistant district attorney refers an eligible defendant to the pretrial intervention program.
The defendant’s criminal record is carefully considered, and if appropriate, a meeting is set.
The defendant attends the meeting and must choose whether to proceed with the pretrial intervention program or head to court.
It is important to point out that if you receive a pretrial intervention, it does not translate to you being proven innocent. In fact, if you accept the pretrial intervention, you admit your guilt regarding the charge at hand, but this path can offer legal advantages.
In order to be eligible for pretrial intervention, all of the following must apply to your situation:
You are charged with a non-violent crime.
The charge is no more serious than a misdemeanor.
You otherwise have a clean criminal record.
You must agree to pay any restitution (to any victims) that is required.
You must freely agree to participate in the program and must admit your guilt regarding the charge in question (which is different than actually pleading guilty).
If you receive a pretrial intervention program and follow all the rules, including terms of supervision – without committing any further criminal acts – the benefits can include:
The initial charges that you faced may be dropped altogether.
You can avoid both a criminal record and a guilty plea.
You are allowed to bypass jail time.
The experience may help you avoid those actions that can lead to future criminal charges.
An important point to make is that if you are genuinely innocent of the charge and/or have a solid chance of beating the charge, going for a pretrial intervention or diversion may be to your detriment. Working closely with a dedicated criminal lawyer can help you make the right decisions for you (in your exact circumstances).