Pretrial Diversion is Available for Federal Charges
Facing federal criminal charges is a very serious matter. Most often, when you’re indicted by the Federal Government, the potential penalties are staggering. Federal pretrial diversion can offer an opportunity for individuals facing federal criminal charges to avoid a conviction, avoid prison time, and to avoid the stress and expense of a trial.
Citizens accused of crimes by the federal government can enter pretrial diversion at any time. While there is no requirement that this happen prior to indictment, most often, this occurs prior to an indictment being returned by a grand jury. In order to maximize your chances of pretrial diversion, it’s important to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney early.
The concept of pretrial diversion is simple: if the accused voluntarily agrees to a period of supervision by federal probation officers, she can avoid prosecution or conviction provided that she completes the diversion program successfully.
Participation in Pre-trial diversion is voluntary.
In order to enter pretrial diversion, the accused citizen must usually sign a voluntary agreement to waive any speedy trial and statute of limitation defenses. The accused must also have an attorney during the diversion process.
Steps to obtain pretrial diversion:
Your lawyer must negotiate pretrial diversion.
Most federal prosecutors will require that you submit to a proffer interview before agreeing to pretrial diversion. A proffer is an “off the record” meeting between you, your lawyer, and the government. During this meeting, the government will ask you questions about the alleged crime. If you are truthful, the statements you make will usually not be admissible against you in a later trial.
If referred for pretrial diversion by the government, you must be interviewed by probation.
Pursuant to federal law, the United States Probation Office has the authority to supervise citizens referred for pretrial diversion. This supervision is voluntary and requires that the citizen agree to the terms and meet certain qualifications for pretrial diversion. Your statements made during the pretrial diversion interview are usually not admissible against you in a later trial. USAM-712.
If approved for pretrial diversion by the US Attorney and US Probation, a pretrial diversion contract is negotiated.
After approval for pretrial diversion by the United State Probation Office, your lawyer and the government can negotiate the terms of your pretrial diversion contract. The goal is to craft requirements that will help you with any rehabilitative goals, ensure no future criminal conduct, and avoid a criminal prosecution. These terms can include anything from completing community service and making restitution to engaging in inpatient rehabilitation.
An example pretrial diversion agreement can be found here: https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-715-usa-form-186-pretrial-diversion-agreement
The citizen successfully completes pretrial diversion.
After signing the pretrial diversion contract, your goal should be to successfully complete pretrial diversion. This can feel like you’re being asked to jump through hoop – and you are. However, if you jump through the hoops successfully, you avoid a trial, possible prison time, and a conviction.
If you complete each of the terms of the contract, you will never be prosecuted for the conduct which led to your pretrial diversion. After you have completed pretrial diversion, the government will forward a notice to the FBI that you successfully completed the diversion and that the charges were dropped.
Prosecution if you fail to complete pretrial diversion.
If the government thinks that you have violated the terms of your pretrial diversion agreement, they can initiate criminal charges against you. Not every violation of the terms of your pretrial diversion agreement requires that the government start prosecution. However, the discretion to prosecute you for the diverted offense lies with the prosecutor. Because of this, you should try very hard to comply with the pretrial services agreement. If charges are initiated against you, usually your statements during the proffer and pretrial diversion interview will not be admissible against you.
In conspiracy cases, it is worth considering that delaying your prosecution might lead to more of your fellow accused being interested in testifying against you in order to receive a reduction in their sentences. Because of this, you should be careful to accept pretrial diversion only in cases where your case is unlikely to win at trial and you believe you can successfully complete the diversion program.
Without a doubt, pretrial diversion can be a very beneficial arrangement for many accused citizens. However, like most decisions, there are potential pitfalls to avoid. If properly negotiated, there is little downside and a significant benefit to pretrial diversion – including a clean record with no federal conviction.
If you’re facing federal criminal charges and are considering whether to accept and offer of pretrial diversion or are wondering whether pretrial diversion is an option, you should contact an experienced federal criminal lawyer. The lawyers at Blanchard Law are happy to discuss the possibility of obtaining pretrial diversion for your case.