Ashley Jackson's Blog

Diversion: What you should know

For individuals charged with certain crimes, diversion of these charges may be an option.  Diversion is a creation of the Tennessee Legislature and is governed by statute.  Tennessee allows principally two types of diversion: pre-trial diversion and judicial diversion. 

In pre-trial diversion, an individual charged with certain crimes may, with the consent of the District Attorney General, have their case suspended with conditions. An agreement is drafted between the Defendant and the District Attorney, and generally contains conditions requiring that the Defendant not commit any criminal offense, the Defendant avoid certain activities related to the charge, the Defendant make restitution to any victims, or that the Defendant pay court costs, among other conditions.  Additionally, the agreement may require the Defendant to submit to counseling, payment of supervision expenses, or if the charge involved drugs or alcohol, require the Defendant to keep and wear an alcohol monitoring device.  Pre-trial diversion is not a dismissal; rather, prosecution of the case is suspended for up to two (2) years.  The trial court may dismiss the charge ninety (90) days after the expiration of the suspension period, provided the Defendant has complied with all conditions of the diversion agreement.  If the Defendant violates the diversion agreement, the prosecution of the crime will be resumed.    

In judicial diversion, the Defendant conditionally pleads guilty or no contest, however entry of the judgment is deferred and the Defendant is placed upon probation.  Like with pre-trial diversion, not all crimes are eligible for judicial diversion.  The probation ordered by the Court cannot exceed the maximum sentence for the crime the Defendant is charged with.  In addition, the Court may order any other reasonable conditions as it sees fit as a part of the probation, including ordering alcohol monitoring or temporary confinement in jail for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.  The Defendant must also pay supervision fees for the probation, and the granting of the diversion is expressly conditioned upon payment of such fees.  Judicial diversion is not a dismissal; however, upon successful completion of the probation period, provided the Defendant has complied with all terms and conditions of probation, the Court shall discharge the Defendant from probation and dismiss the underlying charges.  An individual who successfully completes judicial diversion may also have the charge expunged upon application to the Court and payment of any fees or outstanding court costs.  If the Defendant violates probation, the prior guilty or no contest plea will be entered and the Defendant will be sentenced accordingly. 

Diversion is a helpful option for individuals charged with certain crimes, and may allow them to avoid both jail time and having a conviction on one’s record.  However, there are restrictions as to the types of crimes eligible for diversion. Further, an individual seeking diversion cannot have had a prior diversion. 

Our attorneys have successfully entered diversions for our clients in various criminal cases.  Call attorney Ashley Jackson at (615) 784-4800 for more information if you are charged with a crime for more information about criminal representation.    

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