Massachusetts Pre-Trial Diversion Programs
There are a number of different ways to prevent a criminal charge or arrest from every appearing on your record. One defense tool that I’ve used successfully a number of times is called a pre-trial diversion.
What is a Pretrial Diversion?
Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 276a, there is a provision for a pretrial diversion. A judge is allowed discretion to allow a criminal charge to be diverted directly to a community service or other program.
When you complete the program or service required, the criminal case is dismissed before it is ever arraigned. Therefore, no record of your criminal charge, or even the fact that you were arrested will exist!
We can request a pretrial diversion at an arraignment date by filing a motion, affidavit, and memorandum to divert the case to a substance abuse or alcohol education program (often just attending some AA meetings), or community service.
Who is eligible for a pretrial diversion?
To be eligible for a pretrial diversion in Massachusetts, you must:
- Be between the ages of 17-21
- Be accused of a first offense, misdemeanor charge, such as minor in possession of alcohol, drug possession, traffic violation, shoplifting, or anything other than a violent crime.
If you don’t meet these criteria, there are other options to deal with criminal charges, including contesting the evidentiary grounds for arrest at a show cause or clerk’s magistrate’s hearing.
What’s the Difference Between Pretrial Diversion and Pretrial Probation?
Pretrial probation is often an even better deal than a pretrial diversion when it is available.
A pretrial probation can be used in more cases, although only with very minor first offense charges.
But with a pretrial probation:
- You don’t have to perform any service, attend classes or do anything
- You don’t have to admit to anything
- If nothing happens after the probation period, the charge disappears as if it never happened.
Number 2 is key. You haven’t admitted anything, so even if the pretrial probation isn’t completed, you are no worse off than if you started and haven’t given up your rights to fight the charge in other ways.
Free consultation on Pretrial Diversion Programs and other Criminal Defense Strategies
If you are facing a criminal charge in Massachusetts, and feel that a pretrial diversion program might be the right solution for you, call me now to discuss your exact situation and I’ll let you know what I think, and what I can do to help.
I defend many people at clerk magistrate’s hearings, which is often a great opportunity to work out a pretrial diversion deal, and completely avoid any criminal record.