Happy Friday, everybody. Today, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about pretrial diversion. Pretrial diversion is growing in popularity in a lot of different counties across the state of Texas. Every county calls it something a little different. It could be called pretrial diversion, could be called the divert program, could be called the first time offender drug program, could be called a memo agreement. It’s known by a lot of names, but essentially what it is, it’s a program that was established by that county’s district attorney’s office and a way for first-time offenders of usually minor offenses, it’s a way to keep their case from going into the criminal justice system, and if they successfully complete the program, to get that case completely removed from their criminal history. So it’s usually a great, great program and a great opportunity for defendants if you can get it in.

The first thing I wanted to do today is shoot you over to my paralegal, Diana Wilson, who has studied a multitude of different pretrial diversion programs and their effect on recidivism, and then I’ll come back and talk to you about some of the benefits in which you or your client could be benefited by such a program. Take it away, Diana.

Hey, everyone. As Ryne mentioned, my name is Diana Wilson, and I’m the senior paralegal here at Whalen Law Office. I recently completed my master’s degree in criminology, and during my studies, I had a chance to review and really get in-depth with pretrial diversion and its effect on recidivism going forward. During my studies, I found there were multiple different diversion programs. Some were pretrial, like we’re discussing today. Others were in the middle of a case, and some were even after an offender has been convicted and sentenced. During that program, specifically, offenders who were on probation, who were about to be revoked, were then pulled from probation and put into a diversion program. These studies really just wanted to focus on the diversion aspect at any point and determine if they would still be successful.

The good news is during all of my reviews and all of my studies, I have found that pretrial diversion is successfully completed. And successful is the key word there. You have to stick with it. You have to complete it, and you have to meet all the requirements and get what you need done. Those who have successfully completed pretrial diversion are found to have a lower recidivism rate going forward. What this means is those who are successful typically do not go on to re-offend later in the future. They are given the tools during diversion that they need to go forth and be productive members of society. And as such, they don’t go on to re-offend. As pretrial diversion is still being researched and studied at different stages, we will learn more, but right now, it’s very successful for those who can complete the program. And if you have any questions, Ryne and James are always here to help, and we look forward to talking with you. Bye-bye.

All right. Thanks, Diana. And like we were talking about before, diversion or pretrial diversion, by whatever name it’s called, at its core is a way for somebody to get a clean slate. Right? The essence of the pretrial diversion program and the biggest benefit that you have if you’re successfully admitted and succeed in completing the program, is the ability to get your criminal record expunged immediately upon completion of the program. What that means is there will be no official record whatsoever of the incident for which you were arrested or charged. It also means, legally speaking, that if you’re ever deposed or take the stand and are placed under oath, and they ask you the question, “Have you ever been arrested?” legally, if you’ve had that expunction, you’re entitled to say no. So it really and truly is a fresh start, a clean slate. Okay?

Pre-trial diversion, it differs from county to county. The eligibility differs from county to county. The application process differs from county to county. So if you’re facing any criminal charge whatsoever, ranging from possession of marijuana to an assault case to anything you can think of, it’s important that you speak to a criminal lawyer immediately who is experienced in that specific county so we can discuss and evaluate whether or not there’s a program like that in the county in which you’re charged in which you might be able to be admitted and succeed. Okay? We’ll walk you through the application process. We’ll talk to you about what they’re looking for, what they need, to try to help you get in and to help you succeed in the program.

As always, if you have any questions about any of this or you want to reach out and talk to me further, just feel free to reach me via email, phone, whatever’s convenient for you. Stop me on the street. I really don’t care. Just reach out to me. Ask the questions. I’m always happy to answer. I hope everybody out there has a great weekend, and we’ll see you next week.