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Getting convicted can lead to serious criminal penalties, including costly fines and even a long jail or prison sentence. However, some offenders—whether they are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony—may be eligible for “pretrial diversion.” 

Pretrial diversion programs are an alternative to prosecution offered by the court or the prosecution, generally for first-time offenders and those who have been previously convicted of no more than one nonviolent misdemeanor. If a defendant completes all the conditions of the program (e.g., community service, classes, counseling, fines/restitution, mandatory drug testing, regular meetings with a supervising officer, etc.), then their charges will be dropped, and they may be eligible for expungement/record sealing. 

The following are several types of pretrial diversion programs in Miami-Dade County: 

  • Misdemeanor Pretrial Diversion – This program lasts between three and six months. During this period, if a defendant completes all the conditions and avoids arrest, the State Attorney’s Office will dismiss the case and the defendant may get their arrest record expunged or sealed. 

  • Felony Pretrial Diversion – Individuals who have been charged with a third-degree felony are eligible for this pretrial diversion program, which often lasts up to 12 months. Again, if a defendant meets all the conditions and avoids arrest while participating in the program, the charges will be dropped. 

  • Back on Track Program – This program allows first-time DUI offenders an opportunity to get their drunk/drugged driving charge reduced to a reckless driving charge. Eligibility is based on a person’s driving history, criminal history, and the facts and circumstances surrounding the DUI case. There are two tiers of the Back on Track Program: Tier 1 (for offenders with a blood alcohol level [BAC] of under .15) and Tier 2 (for offenders with a BAC of over .15 or those who refused a post-arrest chemical test). 

  • Traffic Diversion – This program is for individuals who have been charged with a criminal traffic offense, except for DUI, reckless driving, and cases involving an accident or injury. Traffic division also includes a course, so defendants will learn how to avoid future arrests. If a person has been charged with driving with a suspended license or no valid driver’s license, completion of the program will result in license reinstatement. 

  • Juvenile Diversion Programs – Juvenile offenders who have committed a first-time misdemeanor or non-violent felony may be eligible for the Juvenile Alternative Services Sanctions (JASS) diversion program. Other juvenile diversion programs in Miami-Dade County include the Juvenile Delinquency Alternative Program (J-DAP) and the Global Positioning System (GPS) Monitoring program. 

Lastly, defendants must receive approval from the program administration, as well as consent from any victim(s) of the alleged offense. Since drug possession cases generally do not have a victim, a person may enter a pretrial diversion program, so long as he/she has not been previously convicted of a felony. 

If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony offense in Miami, contact the Law Office of Armando J. Hernandez, P.A. today at (305) 400-0074 for a free case review. Let an experienced criminal defense lawyer help you immediately! 

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