What is Diversion Program?

Legal Definition
A diversion program in the criminal justice system is a form of sentence in which the criminal offender joins a rehabilitation program, which will help remedy the behavior leading to the original arrest, and avoid conviction and a criminal record. The programs are often run by a police department, court, a district attorney's office, or outside agency. Problem-solving courts typically include a diversion component as part of their program. The purposes of diversion are generally thought to include relief to the courts, police department and probation office, better outcomes compared to direct involvement of the court system, and an opportunity for the offender to avoid prosecution by completing various requirements for the program. These requirements may include:

  • Education aimed at preventing future offenses by the offender
  • Restitution to victims of the offense
  • Completion of community service hours
  • Avoiding situations for a specified period in the future that may lead to committing another such offense (such as contact with certain people)

Diversion programs often frame these requirements as an alternative to court or police involvement or, if these institutions are already involved, further prosecution. Successful completion of program requirements often will lead to a dropping or reduction of the charges while failure may bring back or heighten the penalties involved. Charges dismissed because of a diversion program will still lead to additional criminal history points under the US Sentencing Guidelines if there was a finding of guilt by a court or the defendant pleaded guilty or otherwise admitted guilt in open court, provided that the deferred disposition was not a juvenile matter.
-- Wikipedia