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Louisiana criminal defense: What is a diversion program?

In Louisiana and elsewhere, alternative sentencing is possible for those who commit certain crimes. The diversion program offers treatment and rehabilitation rather than punishment. One's criminal defense attorney can pursue this option if the situation meets the necessary qualifications.

The diversion program actually serves several purposes. Not only is it meant to help those accused of nonviolent crimes in getting the help that they really need, but it also reduces court dockets and serves to protect the public from potential repeat offenders. A lot of good can come from taking part in this program.

There are very strict eligibility requirements in place that one must meet in order to participate in pretrial diversion. As previously stated, this is for nonviolent offenders. Other qualifications include:

  • Those in the age range of 17 to 25
  • Not a repeat offender
  • Accused of a drug or alcohol-related criminal offense
  • Acknowledgment of wrongdoing
  • Willingness to participate

If one is accepted into the diversion program, he or she will be required to meet with a court approved counselor either for private sessions or in a group setting. One will also have to submit to random drug and/or alcohol screening and possibly perform community service for a nonprofit organization. Depending on the details of one's case, participation may be required anywhere from six months to two years. Those who fail to complete the program will have their cases sent back to criminal court for prosecution.

While the diversion program sounds simple enough, it does take a lot of work. Not everyone that is accepted into the program finishes it, for one reason or another. For those who are ready to put in the time and effort needed to complete the program, it can be worth it and a good alternative to traditional sentencing. Louisiana residents who have more questions about the state's diversion program and wonder if it is a good fit for them can discuss the matter with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: 26thda.org, "Pre Trial Diversion", Accessed on April 18, 2017

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