If you commit a crime in Texas, the prosecution may decide to do one of two things: Go through with the ordinary channels of prosecution or send you through a pre-trial diversion program. If the prosecution elects for the former, you stand the very real possibility of receiving a conviction, which may result in fines and jail time. If the prosecution elects for a pre-trial diversion program, however, you will have the opportunity to meet certain conditions in exchange for the dismissal of charges.
According to the United States Department of Justice, states use pre-trial diversion programs to divert certain offenders from the traditional criminal justice processing and into a supervised program. These programs seek to fulfill four major objectives:
- To save judicial and prosecutive resources for larger and more complex cases
- To deter future criminal activity among certain types of offenders
- To provide communities and victims of crime a vehicle for restitution
- To ensure that the period of supervision does not exceed 18 moths, though it can be shorter
Though the state benefits from pre-trial diversion programs, not every defendant in a criminal case qualifies. For a pre–trial diversion program to even be an option for you, you must meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria vary from state to state. However, the prosecution is more likely to divert your case if you do not have two or more prior felony convictions on your record; if you are not a public official who faces allegations arising out of the supposed violation of a public trust or funds; or if your offense is not related to foreign affairs or national security. Ultimately, though the prosecution may use its discretion to decide whether or not you qualify for such leniency.