What’s the Difference Between Deferred Disposition and Pretrial Diversion?

Both these things sound roughly alike and have long words that start with “D.” Moreover, they are both a lot like probation, from a procedural standpoint. FInally, they both have the same happy ending. If the defendant successfully completes either program, the defendant has no conviction record.

All that being said, there are some significant differences between these two things. Additionally, prosecutors do not offer them to give defendants a break. They offer them to encourage defendants to plead guilty to weak cases instead of challenging the evidence at trial.

The choice is a big decision. So, carefully review all the pros and cons with a Weatherford criminal defense attorney.

Pretrial Diversion

Only prosecutors offer pretrial diversion. Typically, they offer in in nonviolent cases to defendants with no criminal record. Pretrial diversion may be available in both misdemeanors and felonies.

Program requirements vary in different jurisdictions and in different courtrooms. Generally, however, the defendant jumps through some hoops, such as attending a self-improvement class and performing community service. If the defendant completes all requirements within a few months, prosecutors dismiss the charges.

If the defendant fails to timely complete the requirements, there are usually no adverse consequences. Prosecutors simply re-start court proceedings where they left off. A full range of dispositions, including deferred disposition, are usually available.

Prosecutors dismiss the judicial record, but the arrest record remains behind. Sometimes, but not very often, it’s possible to expunge or seal these records. If that’s not an option, do not panic. If the arrest comes up later, say something like “I hired a lawyer and the lawyer took care of it.”

Deferred Disposition

This outcome occurs much later in the process. The defendant goes before the judge and pleads guilty or no contest. However, the judge does not find the defendant guilty at that point. Instead, the judge defers that part of the proceeding to a later date. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the judge dismisses the case. However, the arrest record remains, as outlined above.

Deferred dispositions can usually be sealed. No one other than law enforcement and perhaps a few state agencies will be able to view the arrest record. Another deferred disposition advantage is that if prosecutors do not offer it, the judge may grant it unilaterally.

However, there is a big down side. If the defendant fails to successfully complete probation, the judge can sentence the defendant to any sentence up to the maximum allowed by law. So, if the defendant is not a good candidate for probation, deferred disposition may be a bad idea, despite its many advantages.

Some advanced sentencing options may be available in many cases. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Home and jail visits are available.