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What Are Diversion Programs And What Should One Know About These Programs?
Diversion programs should have been a good deal for consumers. Instead, they are a scam where those with knowledge and power are taking advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable. Worse, they are doing everything they can to give the illusion of making sure that people’s rights are respected with the reality that they are doing everything possible to make sure that person does not talk to a lawyer, they are given misinformation about any type of sanction and they are given misinformation about treatment.
Taking a classic example where someone was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. Both of them were misdemeanors. The person was thinking of not getting a lawyer. There are still places in the United States where people go to court thinking that this minor crime that they have been charged with is not a big deal. They usually think this because they are a first offender; they have heard of diversion programs and deferred adjudication. They are left with the belief that everything is going to be fine. The system wants to be fair with them and take care of them and that the most cost effective thing they can do is go down and get into that diversion program. However, the truth is very different.
For example, for the possession of marijuana charge, that person was offered six months of probation, withhold adjudication of guilt, attend and complete drug abuse and counseling classes once a week for six months. He was also ordered to be drug tested constantly, pay over $1,000 in fines and court costs, and pay for the drug tests that would be given randomly, sometimes at work, when that person does not even want the boss to know they were arrested in the first place. The person talked with me and we had a courthouse surprise discussion where I told him that this could have been part of a diversion program. That is because quite often, the six months of probation outlined is what they are doing with these diversion programs – they are sentencing people to probation and not telling them because that is essentially what most diversion programs are.
Compare that burdensome and expensive drug punishment compared to the outcome with what a criminal defense specialist got for someone who retained me: $270 and case dismissed. That is a big difference. Now, that does not happen in every case. No lawyer can promise an outcome, but the reality is these diversion programs are usually so loaded with conditions, that it is a setup for a person to be violated and sent to jail later. I get letters from people in jail who represented themselves in court on what they thought was a minor drug charged and got punished terribly.
You went through a first offender diversion program, but you still have criminal history.
Another problem with “too good to be true” prosecutor offered division programs is that when people are told they are not going to be convicted, that they really still have criminal history that they do not even know about until they have been turned down from three or four different graduate schools. They may be turned down from promising job offers or after they have been forced to take a job offer at fifty percent below market value. That is because they have criminal history but they are not aware of it. Their employers are. They were misled by the court system. That is the problem with most of these diversion programs.
Another thing that people do not think to consider is the terms of diversions are negotiable. These diversion programs were not available back in 2005. In those days, attorneys would start working with the end in mind. When they begin with the end in mind, they are focused on the outcome that may not occur for months. When they begin with the end in mind, they would like to start with the end of negotiated dismissal. In most cases when you start with that mindset, beginning with the end in mind there needs to be a negotiated dismissal that impacts the settlement terms. That is why people are able to get better outcomes when they use the certified specialist in criminal law. There are a lot of criminal defense attorneys who go, “Oh, diversion. I won,” but that is a lame type of winning. The better and proper course of action is to negotiate the terms and conditions, if any, in a negotiated dismissal. Negotiated dismissal may not have any terms or conditions and maybe an outright no prosecution or no prosecute, depending upon where and when the case is dismissed.
Read about some of the Diversion Programs Available for Drug Cases in Florida or call Attorney Stephen G. Cobb of the Cobb Criminal Defense Law Firm in Florida for a FREE Initial Consultation at (850) 466-1522 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.