For some accused of both felonies and misdemeanors in Travis County there exists an option to resolve their case without a conviction and with a dismissal. This is what is known as the Travis County pre-trial diversion program. While it is a good option for some clients for others it is not. Some clients do not qualify at all.
In order to qualify for pre-trial diversion, a client must satisfy three criteria:
- (1) No previous criminal convictions;
- (2) No accident involving another vehicle (for DWI cases) and
- (3) Demonstrate a willingness to accept responsibility for their actions and admit culpability for the underlying charge.
The client must also agree to a certain disposition of the case should pre-trial diversion be terminated for any violations of the terms of agreement. The client must also agree, in writing, to whatever conditions are imposed by Travis County. Most commonly this includes classes, community service, reporting to pre-trial services and the payment of some fees.
The aim of pre-trial diversion in Austin is two-fold:
- (1) Prevent the client from having a criminal conviction on their record;
- (2) Rehabilitation as an alternative to punishment, i.e. classes instead of jail.
The maximum time period for a pre-trial diversion is two years.
It is important to note which rights a client is required to waive in order to enter into the pre-trial diversion program. Most important among those are the right to a jury trial and the right to appeal. A client must waive both of those rights in writing to enter into the diversion program. A client does NOT waive their rights to an expunction in the future, but the DA’s office will retain the right to maintain copies of the documents for pre-trial diversion if the client does request an expunction of records.
For clients considering applying to pre-trial diversion, we must consider the following factors. How many hoops am I willing to jump through to obtain a dismissal? How strong is the evidence against me? Am I comfortable waiving my rights to obtain a dismissal? Am I going to be able to complete this program? Can I afford all the fees associated with the program? Do I have enough time to complete all the conditions? For some clients the answers to those questions are “Yes!”. If that is the case then pre-trial diversion is an option for you.