Criminal cases in Colorado can be difficult and complex to navigate. There are many variables and unknowns in the process. For this reason, some defendants are tempted to take deferred prosecution agreements, also known as pretrial diversions, when they are offered.
These types of agreements mean that a defendant doesn’t need to plead guilty. Meeting certain conditions that are put in place by the prosecutor for their case can qualify the defendant for a full case dismissal.
These types of deals sound very appealing to many people facing criminal charges, but are they always the best option? Here’s what you need to know.
Colorado’s Diversion Programs
A pretrial diversion program is basically a plea bargain reached with the prosecution that, as mentioned, doesn’t require you to plead guilty.
Those eligible for diversion programs participate in treatment or make payments toward victim restitution in exchange for the charges against them in criminal court to be dropped.
Successful completion of a diversion program in Colorado will result in no conviction ever being applied to your record. You may also petition the court to have arrest records sealed for the incident that led to the case.
Make no mistake, however, choosing to participate in a diversion program is a binding legal agreement. You must fulfill certain conditions and failure to do so can result in serious legal consequences.
Pretrial Diversion Eligibility
Adult diversion programs are usually offered to first-time offenders. Most of the time, these offenders have been arrested for drug crimes or other low-level crimes.
To determine whether or not someone is eligible, the prosecutor considers a few factors. These include:
- The nature of the charges and the circumstances surrounding them
- Whether or not diversion would be consistent with the rehabilitation of the defendant and their integration back into society
- Whether or not it is in the best interest of the public
If you are being considered for a diversion program in Colorado, then you may be asked to provide information about:
- Any prior criminal history
- Your work experience
- Your education
- Where you live
- Your family situation
- Any other pertinent information relating to the diversion
There are also some crimes that simply do not qualify for diversion. If the alleged offense includes any of these, then diversion will not be an option:
- Any offense related to child prostitution
- Sexual assault
- Sexual assault of a child by someone in a position of trust
- Sexual assault of a child
- Procurement of a child for the purposes of exploitation
- Sexual offenses committed against at-risk juveniles or adults
- Sexual exploitation of a child
- Sexual offenses committed with a lethal weapon
- Inducement of a child
Based on all the above factors, the prosecutor will decide whether it is appropriate to offer you a diversion program option or not.
Common Conditions of Colorado Diversion Programs
Every diversion agreement reached with prosecutors is different, but there are a handful of common conditions most Colorado diversion programs include. They are:
- Offender assessment (sex, drug, and alcohol offenders are the most common)
- Counseling and treatment
- Restitution payment to the victim
- Community service
- No other crimes can be committed while on pretrial diversion
- No firearms may be in your possession while on pretrial diversion
Diversion programs do cost money to the defendant. Restitution and court costs are involved as well as supervision fees, costs of treatment, and any costs associated with participating in restorative justice. However, payment is on a sliding scale.
For questions regarding a specific type of diversion program for your Colorado case, and whether it might be an appropriate option for you, reach out to an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney for advice.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.