Legal Blog

What is a Diversion Program in Indiana?

14 March 2024 | Criminal Defense,  

Attorney Sean Hessler

Written by
Sean Hessler

14 March 2024

Criminal Defense,  

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Facing a criminal conviction, even for a minor offense, can be a scary prospect. Getting charges dropped or reduced can be a huge relief for you, but the question is how to accomplish this.

Luckily, people facing criminal charges may be able to apply to and complete a pre-trial diversion program. If you qualify, you can avoid criminal convictions.

Learn more about the available pre-trial diversions in Indiana around Indianapolis, and how a criminal defense lawyer can help you enroll.

What Are Pre-Trial Diversions in Indiana?

Pre-trial diversion programs are alternative pathways that allow certain offenders to avoid traditional prosecution and the potential consequences of a conviction.

They aim to redirect eligible defendants away from the court system and into rehabilitative measures. Programs aim to reduce recidivism.

Who is Eligible for Diversion Programs in Indiana?

Participants must meet certain requirements to qualify for pre-trial programs in Indiana. Some of the biggest considerations include the nature of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history.

These defendants could be able to apply for pre-trial diversion:

  • First-time offenders.
  • Defendants with few prior convictions.
  • People charged with non-violent misdemeanors or low-level felonies.
  • Defendants who pose no significant threat to public safety.
  • Individuals who show a willingness to comply with the program’s conditions.

It’s critical for potential participants to speak with an Indianapolis criminal defense attorney to understand the specific eligibility criteria, as they can vary by county and the nature of the charges.

What Offenses Qualify for Pre-Trial Diversion?

Pre-trial diversion programs in Indiana often consider a range of offenses, particularly those that are non-violent and where the offender shows potential for rehabilitation. Typical offenses may include:

What are Some Pre-Trial Diversion Programs?

Available programs will vary by location, and some may have different requirements across the state. Your criminal defense attorney can help you find a solution that fits your case and your needs.

Marion County offers its programs through the prosecutor’s office.

Drug Court Programs

Designed for individuals with substance abuse issues involved in non-violent offenses. Participants undergo regular drug testing, participate in substance abuse treatment, and receive judicial supervision. Successful completion typically results in reduced or dismissed charges and addresses the root causes of addiction.

Mental Health Diversion Programs

Tailored for defendants whose mental illness significantly influenced their criminal behavior. The program includes mental health evaluations, personalized treatment plans, therapy, and medication management. It aims to stabilize mental health to prevent future criminal activity.

Veterans Treatment Courts

These courts serve military veterans whose criminal behavior may be linked to service-related issues like PTSD. Veterans undergo specific counseling, receive mentorship from fellow veterans, and complete community service, with a focus on reintegrating them into the community.

Community Service Diversion

Appropriate for young or first-time offenders involved in minor, non-violent crimes. Participants complete community service hours in various projects, which helps instill a sense of civic responsibility and can lead to charge dismissal.

Educational and Skill Development Programs

Focuses on offenders lacking essential educational or vocational skills. Includes GED preparation, vocational training, and financial literacy courses, enhancing participants’ employment prospects and reducing the likelihood of reoffending.

How Do I Apply for a Pre-Trial Diversion Program in Indiana?

Before you can assume you qualify for a pre-trial diversion program, you should contact an experienced Indianapolis criminal defense attorney. They can review your case and determine if you can qualify for a program.

Even if you don’t, a criminal defense attorney can help you find a strategy to reduce the consequences of a criminal arrest.

Not every case is the same, but your case could look something like this:

  1. Eligibility Determination: The prosecutor will review your case to decide on eligibility. In some counties, a formal application might be required, including details on why diversion is suitable for the defendant.
  2. Negotiating Terms: If you meet the program’s criteria, your attorney and prosecutor negotiate the program’s terms. They will decide what you must do to meet the state’s conditions, such as community service or counseling. These are formalized in a binding diversion agreement.
  3. Program Participation: After you’ve been approved for the program, you must adhere to the agreement’s conditions. You may need to report to an officer, a program supervisor, or a coordinator.
  4. Completion and Case Dismissal: Upon successful completion, the program supervisor recommends case dismissal. The prosecutor then moves for dismissal in court.
  5. Follow-Up: Post-completion, you may pursue further support services or legal steps to expunge the arrest record.

Why A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You With Pre-Trial Diversion Programs

Criminal laws can be complex, and mistakes could disqualify you from a program.

A lawyer plays a crucial role in determining eligibility, understanding the specific criteria that vary by county, and effectively communicating with prosecutors.

Legal representation is vital for negotiating the terms of the diversion, which can include tailored conditions that avoid convictions.

Without a knowledgeable attorney, defendants might not fully understand their rights or the implications of the diversion agreement, potentially agreeing to terms that are unnecessarily burdensome or misaligned with their best interests.

Challenges Without Legal Assistance

Defendants attempting to navigate pre-trial diversion programs without legal help face several significant challenges.

First, the risk of non-compliance increases, as individuals may not fully grasp the program’s requirements or fail to meet critical deadlines. They may be expelled from the program and suffer subsequent prosecution.

Second, without legal advocacy, defendants may not effectively present their case for eligibility or negotiate favorable terms, resulting in less advantageous program conditions.

Third, ideally the diversion program is completed without any complications. However, if the defendant encounters difficulties such as failing to complete a class in time, testing positive for a controlled substance, or any other accusations of violations of the diversion agreement, then the attorney is able to advocate for the accused. This may result in a reduced sanction, no sanction, or most importantly the ability to remain in the program.

Finally, attorneys also assist in the final stages of the diversion program, ensuring that successful completion is properly documented and recognized by the court. This step is critical for the formal dismissal of charges and clearing of the criminal record.

Indiana Pre-Trial Diversion FAQs

What does participation in a pre-trial diversion program cost?

The cost of participating in a pre-trial diversion program can vary depending on the specific requirements of the program and the jurisdiction.

Typically, participants may be responsible for fees related to application and enrollment, along with costs associated with fulfilling program conditions. Some programs may also require restitution payments or contributions to court costs.

Discuss these potential costs with your attorney to fully understand their financial obligations.

What happens if you fail to complete a pre-trial diversion program?

Failure to complete a pre-trial diversion program typically results in the reinstatement of the original charges. The case proceeds through the traditional criminal justice process.

Some reasons for failure include not meeting the conditions set forth in the diversion agreement, missing appointments, or committing another offense during the diversion period.

If you’re worried about your status in the program, consult your attorney. They can help you explore any remaining legal options or defenses as the case returns to court.

Call Hessler Law for Help With Your Pre-Trial Diversion Programs

Being arrested for a crime can be devastating. You shouldn’t have to deal with the aftermath on your own. Call the Hessler Law Firm for help navigating your options.

Attorney Sean Hessler has helped many clients enroll in and avoid convictions through diversion programs. He understands the stresses that criminal charges create. Schedule your consultation and share your story. Let us help you fight for your future.

Call (317) 886-8800 or use our online contact form.