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What happens if you are accused of a drug crime and have no prior criminal record? After an arrest for a first drug offense, the prosecutor might offer you a way to resolve the case in a felony pre-trial diversion program. You should carefully consider the pros and cons of entering diversion after speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr.
In May of 2015, the Criminal District Attorney’s Office in Bexar County re-designed the Misdemeanor Pre-Trial Diversion Program. The next year, in August of 2016, the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney’s office launched Bexar County’s first felony Pre-Trial Diversion Program. Under this new program, prosecutors can decide to offer a way for a person to resolve the case without a conviction for certain types of non-violent felony drug offenses.
The felony and misdemeanor diversion programs were designed to:
Many of the drug offenses that are eligible for pre-trial diversion are charged under the Texas Controlled Substance Act in Chapter 481. The program is most beneficial for individuals who use drugs because of an addiction issue and want to attend drug treatment in order to stop using drugs.
Even when the prosecutor with the Criminal District Attorney’s Office offers pre-trial diversion, entering the program may not be in the best interest of the person accused of the crime. Fighting the case for an outright dismissal is the best option when insufficient evidence exists to prove the charge beyond all reasonable doubt or when evidence should be suppressed because of an illegal search or seizure.
If you agree to enter the pre-trial diversion program, then you must pay a program fee, complete community service hours, and successfully complete substance abuse treatment and counseling. If you agree to participate in the drug diversion program in Bexar County, you will be supervised by a representative of the Bexar County Pretrial Services Department.
You will be required to participate in the felony diversion program for at least 12 months and your time in the program can be extended for up to 24 months.
Individuals are eligible if they have been charged with a first offense and have no prior criminal record (other than a Class C traffic violations). A person is not eligible for the diversion program if they have previously participated in a diversion program, received deferred adjudication or have a prior criminal conviction.
Other factors can make a person not qualified to enter the diversion program including the use or exhibition of a firearm or deadly weapon during the commission of the crime. The rules of the program also disqualify a person who is engaged in the sale, distribution, manufacture, of cultivation of any controlled substance. The final factor that disqualifies a person from participating in a diversion program is being behind on court-ordered child support payments.
If you successfully complete the program, then the criminal charges will be dismissed. On the other hand, if you fail to complete the program, the case will be returned to the trial court’s docket or set for trial. If convicted, you will then face the full range of punishment for the offense without any credit for the time you spent in the diversion program.
An experienced drug crime attorney in San Antonio can help you decide the best way to fight the charges against you. Call to learn more about the pros and cons of entering a diversion program before trial for a felony drug case in San Antonio or Bexar County, TX.
Call 210-226-1463 to discuss your case.
This article was last updated on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.