Why enlist the help of an attorney? Even if you don't want to take your case to trial, there are many ways an Alpharetta and Roswell DUI attorney can help you. If you have never been convicted of a crime before, you may be able to keep your record clean without ever having to prove innocence. This is accomplished through programs called pre-trial diversion.
How Pre-trial Diversion Differs from Pre-Arrest Diversion
Pre-trial diversion is not to be confused with pre-arrest diversion. If you're a resident of Alpharetta or Roswell, you may be aware of Fulton County's pioneering Pre-Arrest Diversion program.
The Pre-Arrest Diversion program is a partnership between law enforcement and public service providers. When an officer encounters someone committing a crime that is related to extreme poverty, mental health issues, or drug addiction, the officer can divert the person to the appropriate service instead of charging the person with a crime.
To qualify for a pre-trial diversion program, a person would have to have been charged with a crime and the prosecutor for the city or county would have to be pursuing prosecution of those charges. The prosecutor has the option of offering diversion to certain defendants. If the defendant completes the diversion program, the prosecutor will drop the charges.
Attorney Assistance with Diversion Enrollment in Alpharetta and Roswell
The cities of Alpharetta and Roswell each have their own pre-trial diversion programs for their city courts. Fulton County also has a pre-trial diversion program for the county courts.
Unfortunately, the courts and the prosecutor's office provide very little information about this public service on their websites. This creates a lot of confusion. Many defendants have heard something vague about a diversion program existing but may have misinformation about who is eligible, when to ask for the program, and who to ask.
It helps to have an attorney guide you through the process of enrolling in a diversion program. The prosecutor may not mention that diversion is an option or may be reluctant to offer it to a defendant even after the defendant requests diversion. Our Alpharetta and Rosewell attorneys know the requirements of these programs and who is eligible. We'll stand up to the prosecutor for you and protect your rights.
Details About the Diversion Programs
Each city and county runs their diversion programs differently but generally will follow this format.
First-Time Offenders Only
Only first-time offenders are eligible for diversion in Roswell and Alpharetta. This also includes anyone who has already successfully completed the program once for previous charges. A criminal record will disqualify a defendant from the program.
After successfully completing the diversion program, a person will be able to honestly say that they have no criminal convictions on their record.
The diversion programs don't cover those accused of felonies. The prosecutor also won't allow certain people into the program even though the charge is a misdemeanor because the prosecutor's office believes some quality of the person or the facts of the particular case makes the person not a good candidate for diversion. Richard Lawson is a former DUI prosecutor and knows how to communicate with prosecutors to overcome these barriers.
If there are alleged victims, they have a right to be heard in a case. They will be informed that the defendant is applying for diversion and sometimes victim restitution will be included as part of the program costs.
The requirements a defendant is asked to complete will differ depending on the charges. For example, someone accused of domestic violence may have to take an anger management class while someone accused of drunk driving may be required to complete a drunk and alcohol class. There is usually also a requirement to complete a certain number of community service hours. In total, it may take 3 to 6 months to complete the program.
Unfortunately, the steep fees these programs require is a deterrent to many would-be participants. Others face issues with work schedules, childcare needs, and transportation barriers. A defendant who is concerned that they may have these issues will benefit from speaking to their attorney. The attorney can help make arrangements with the diversion program staff to keep a defendant in the program. The programs can sometimes be tough to complete but it is worth it to keep one mistake from ruining a person's record.
Not Completing the Diversion Program
After a defendant is accepted into a diversion program, the court case is put on hold to give the defendant time to complete the program. After successful completion, the charges are dropped. If a defendant is unable or unwilling to complete diversion, the court case will resume.
Fulton County Mental Health Diversion
Some individuals will incur DUI-related charges because of substance abuse disorders and mental illness. Fulton County has a special diversion program for people in this situation. It differs from the regular program because participants work with a social worker and the judge on an individual treatment program. It's similar to the regular diversion program in that successful completion means the charges will be dismissed.
Alpharetta and Roswell Attorneys
No one likes to accept a bad deal. If you're facing criminal charges for the first time in your life, a courtroom can be a very confusing and stressful environment. You may be worried that evidence against you is strong and you're going to face the maximum charges unless you take the first deal the prosecutor offers you. In this situation, you'll want to have an advocate at your side who understands all your options and will fight for your best interests. Contact an Alpharetta and Roswell DUI attorney from our firm at once if you are facing a first-time, DUI-related charge.