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Can I go into a pretrial diversion program?

Drug offenses related to cocaine often come with very serious penalties, and prosecutors are known for handling these cases very aggressively. Understanding all of the defense options is the first step moving forward, and a criminal defense attorney can give you more information on whether alternatives — such as pretrial diversion programs — may be a possibility in your case.

These programs are a way for defendants to have the charges against them dropped and avoid a trial or a conviction on their criminal records as part of a plea bargain. In exchange, the defendants must satisfy the court's requirements for the diversion program, which often include some type of drug rehab, counseling, probation and good behavior.

Pretrial diversion programs go by many names, including deferred prosecution, accelerated pretrial rehabilitation and pretrial intervention, but it is important to understand the differences between these programs and what is known as deferred adjudication. Deferred adjudication is similar to pretrial diversion except that it requires the defendant to enter a plea for the charges, either guilty or no contest. Even though the defendant must enter a plea in these cases, if he or she is successful in completing the program, there will be no record of guilt on the person's criminal record.

While these types of programs are often good choices for those who are accused of drug crimes, especially those who are first-time offenders, prosecutors are given discretion over whether a defendant is given this option. Either way, if you are facing drug charges, it is important to understand all of the options and the pros and cons of each moving forward.

Source: FindLaw, "Deferred Adjudication / Pretrial Diversion," accessed June 04, 2015

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