A PreTrial Diversion (PTD) or pretrial diversion program (PDP) is a judicial process offered by some states (and sometimes only some specific counties of a given state) that allows for the opportunity for your charges to be dropped or dismissed if you meet certain conditions.
Where available, judges may allow you to enter such a program. Typical charges eligible for a pretrial diversion are theft/shoplifting, possession of marijuana, and other non-violent, first offense misdemeanor charges.
Instead of being prosecuted through the court, you are “diverted” to perform community service or complete certain education programs. Your progress is monitored by a court agent or the probation department.
If you complete the terms necessary, your charge is dismissed before arraignment. Which essentially means that it is as if you were never charged with a crime at all, so no incident appears on your record.
Why Does a Pretrial Diversion Program Exist?
Pretrial diversions are in the statutes of many states to create an opportunity for judges to offer a “second chance” to some defendants who are first time offenders, and whose life is likely to be substantially harmed by harsh penalties, or any criminal record.
How Do I Get a Pretrial Diversion?
Your attorney must file a motion (or a motion, affidavit, and memorandum) explaining why you are a good candidate for a pretrial diversion program.
Some states, such as Massachusetts, only allow pretrial diversions for defendants between the ages of 17-21.
Eligibility, availability, and conditions vary widely from state to state, county to county, and are not available in all courts. Consult with a local, experienced criminal lawyer to find out if you might be eligible for a pretrial diversion program.
It is similar to a deferred prosecution.