Facing criminal charges does not always mean going to trial to avoid serious penalties. For those facing certain charges, such as drug crimes, without a criminal history, it is possible to go through a pretrial program to avoid the criminal consequences that could follow if conviction occurs. Those facing drug charges could enter a drug diversion program, helping them to recover from addiction and avoid the penalties that could follow a conviction.

In Baton Rouge, the purpose of the pretrial diversion program is to intervene in the judicial process in order to divert some first time offenders from the court system. This program not only benefits the accused participating in the program, it also benefits the community, prosecutors, the courts and the jails.

A defendant benefits by having the charges dismissed against him or her and having their record expunged once the program has been successfully completed. The community benefits because it reduces the chance of an offender recommitting the crime. Prosecutors and the courts benefit by reducing the time and money spent on cases. Finally, jails benefit from the reduction in inmate population.

In order to enter the drug diversion program, an individual must meet certain criteria. First, they must have no pervious convictions on their record. This program is only available to first time offenders. Next, they must be accused of committing a nonviolent misdemeanor. Finally, the accused must be at least 17-years-old.

Those facing a drug charges should understand their rights and how best to defend him or herself. While going to courts can be a great mechanism to reduce or dismiss the charges, it is important to consider other options that could have the same result.

Source: Brgov.com, “Pretrial Diversion Division,” accessed Feb. 3, 2018