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What is the Georgia Pretrial Diversion program?

In Georgia, the Pretrial Diversion Program offers an alternative to prosecution for first time offenders facing a minor offense in the criminal justice system. The Program offers an advantage to those defendants by providing a chance to maintain a clean record. It also allows the criminal justice system to focus on more critical areas of the law.

After an individual has been accused or indicted for an offense, their attorney may file a petition to have the District Attorney evaluate their eligibility and accept their participation in the program. In order to be found eligible, the following is some of the criteria for entry into a Pretrial program:

  • The victim’s response to the defendant’s petition;
  • No prior criminal record;
  • Offender must be at least 17 years old;
  • Must waive right to: Grand Jury Indictment, a Speedy Trial, and Confidential Juvenile Records; and

Participation in the program must be voluntary and must occur before any type of conviction is secured by the prosecution. Individuals with extensive juvenile and/or criminal records may not be eligible to participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program.

Generally once an individual is accepted into the program they no longer have to attend court hearings and are immediately subject to the supervised program for a required period of time. The participant must agree to terms which may include restitution, community service, and program involvement. Also, participants must agree to not be arrested or charged with any new offense while in the program. After successful completion of the Pretrial Diversion Program the charges will be dismissed or result in nolle prosequi, meaning no conviction of the crime is on the individual’s record and the individual can have the charge expunged from their record. Participants who do not successfully complete the program return to the criminal justice system and are prosecuted for the crimes charged. The Pretrial Diversion Program is county specific so each has different requirements for eligibility as well as completion of the program.

In Cobb County, any defendant who wishes to apply must have an attorney. Also, an eligible individual may not have committed a crime that resulted in an injury to a victim, and the crime must not be drug related. The individual must not be violent or aggressive in nature and must either be a full time student or employed and have a stable place of residence. Participants must be residents of the county unless they fall within the few exceptions, including full time students, full time employment, or returning home to a family.

In Dekalb County the crime must be nonviolent and the participant must be willing to complete corrective programs and activities.

In Fulton County the participant must agree to complete certain terms and conditions appropriate to the nature of the offense. This may include paying the restitution in a theft case or taking substance abuse classes in cases involving drugs.

Georgia also offers the First Offender Treatment program. Unlike the Pretrial Diversion Program the defendant completes the trial stage and enters a guilty or nolo contendere plea. The defendant then requests the sentencing judge to admit the defendant into the Program. Similar to the Pretrial Diversion Program, participants are deemed to not have a criminal conviction, however defendant will still have an arrest history. To be eligible for the First Offender Treatment Program, the individual must not have a previous felony conviction, the charge may not involve certain violent, sexual or abuse charges, or charges for DUI. The First Offender Treatment Program may also only be used once.

If you or someone you know has recently been arrested and you need help in gaining entry into a Pretrial Diversion program or the First Offender program please contact Attorney Michael Bixon. Attorney Michael Bixon has helped numerous clients gain entry into both programs, and can possibly help you as well. Contact us at any time at 404-551-5684.

Categories: Criminal Defense