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Alternative sentencing programs to avoid harsh criminal penalties

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2020 | Firm News

When those accused of a crime are subsequently convicted, many presume that the offender must face the criminal consequences outlined by statute. However, there are options available to those facing criminal allegations in California and elsewhere to have the case against them dismissed. This is accomplished by completing certain conditions that are specific to the matter.

Deferred adjudication or diversion programs not only require the accused offender to meet the terms set by the program, but they may also require that they plead guilty to the charges as well. In a deferred adjudication, a defendant will plead guilty or nolo contendere; however, a judgment of guilt will not be entered by the court.

A pretrial diversion allows a defendant to enter into a diversion program before trial. In some cases, the judge may suggest this. When a pretrial diversion occurs, this removes a defendant from prosecution. This means there is no record of guilt or no contest. The conditions associated with this program commonly include probation, counseling and community service.

The length of a pretrial diversion program is based on the type of charge involved. If one was charged with a misdemeanor, the program could run for six months to a year. On the other hand, felony charges last for one to two years. It should be noted that if the conditions set are not maintained or met during the time period set, trial could take place as if no diversion program took place.

In contrast, a deferred adjudication requires a record of guilt or no contest on the defendant’s record. However, once the conditions are met, the charges will be dismissed and there will be no record of conviction on the defendant’s record. No matter which alternative sentencing utilized, these programs are most commonly used for drug offenses, domestic offenses and first-time offenders.

Avoiding penalties such as jail time and hefty fines are sought by anyone facing criminal allegations. A criminal defense is afforded to all those accused of a crime; however, some defense options are more ideal than others. A legal professional could help a defendant determine if deferred adjudication or a diversion program would be the most beneficial step to take towards initiating an aggressive criminal defense.