Diversion offers are plea offers negotiated with the State Attorney. There are five programs offered in the Firsit Judicial Circuit which is the Circuit for Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties.
Pre-trial Diversion, the misdemeanor program, and Pre-trial Intervention, the felony program can both be risky agreements. A few years ago the State Attorney’s Office altered the terms of the diversion programs. Now all of the diversion programs are “deferred sentencing” agreements. A deferred sentencing agreement means that proceed directly to sentencing if you do not complete the diversion agreement. You no longer have the right to a trial. You do not have the right to present any defenses that you may have.
As to Court, or Judge ordered programs, there is only one program. Drug Court. Florida Statute § 921.0026 (m) provides that the Court may offer you this program if you meet certain criteria. First, the offense that you are charged with must be a non-violent felony. Second, you must otherwise score out to state prison time. Drug Court is available if the Judge concludes that a downward departure sentence is the best remedy given your circumstances. You must also meet certain legal criteria. Be aware that the Drug Court program is a also deferred sentencing program. You can also be jailed for minor infractions of the program rules. The other two diversion programs are Mental Health Court and Veterans Court which I will write about in a future article. You can call my office for details on these two programs or the other programs should you need your questions answered now.
Keep your eyes open, be realistic about your opportunities for success in the diversion programs and consult an attorney prior to accepting any offer. For immediate assistance call 850-609-0940.