Pre-Trial Diversion

If you are facing criminal accusations in Massachusetts, you may be worried about the impact that a criminal record could have on your life and future. Luckily, there are various disposition options, available in select cases, that can stop a criminal incident from ever appearing on your record. One such disposition is pre-trial diversion. Pre-trial diversion helps certain young people and veterans to avoid the criminal system by instead taking part in a program aimed at improvement of self or community.

Who Qualifies for Pre-Trial Diversion?

The following are the eligibility requirements for pre-trial diversion:

  • The defendant is 18 to 21 years of age

  • The defendant has had no criminal conviction since reaching the age of 18

  • The defendant has no pending criminal cases or outstanding warrants

  • The defendant is charged with a crime potentially punishable by a term of imprisonment and over which the district court has final jurisdiction

  • The defendant has a program’s recommendation that he or she would benefit from participation in it.

Military veterans, active service members, and those who have a history of military service may also be eligible for pre-trial diversion, and the age requirements are not applicable to them.

What Type of Programs are Involved in Pre-Trial Diversion?

Pretrial diversion programs include substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, community service, counseling, educational, vocational, social or psychological programs, and more. These programs are intended to benefit both the defendant and the public.

When Should Pre-Trial Diversion be Requested?

Pre-trial diversion should be requested prior to arraignment, which is a defendant’s first appearance in court. Where a defendant is qualified, the arraignment may be continued for two weeks, so that an assessment of whether a defendant would benefit from a program may be conducted. The court may also, in its discretion and in consideration of the prosecution’s opinion, grant a two-week continuance for a defendant who preliminary fails to meet the eligibility qualifications.

What are the Benefits of a Pre-Trial Diversion Disposition?

Perhaps most importantly, a pre-trial diversion disposition prevents any entry from going onto one’s criminal record because it must be requested prior to arraignment. Successful completion of the pre-trial diversion program will also result in dismissal of the charges.

What Laws Govern Pre-Trial Diversion in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts General Laws chapter 276A, sections 1-11 govern pre-trial diversion. Eligibility requirements are set forth in section 2 of that chapter. Section 1 provides definitions, and section 10 governs veteran eligibility.

Who is a Good Candidate for Pre-Trial Diversion?

An experienced lawyer will recognize good candidates for pre-trial diversion. Factors considered include academic performance, participation in the community, and involvement in extracurricular activities.

What if I Have Already Been Arraigned?

Pre-trial diversion is not typically available after arraignment. However, there are other favorable dispositions, such as pre-trial probation, which can significantly minimize the impact of a criminal charge. If you have been charged with a crime in Massachusetts, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will advise as to all of your options.

Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Today (617) 263-6800

If you are facing a criminal accusation in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. at (617) 263-6800 or complete the online contact form available on this website. Certain case dispositions, such as pre-trial diversion and dismissal prior to arraignment, are not available after arraignment. Therefore, if you wish to avoid any entry on your criminal record, it is critical to contact an attorney as early as possible. Attorney Neyman has been defending clients in courts throughout Massachusetts for decades. Contact him today for a free and confidential initial phone consultation.

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