The mission of the Delta County Adult Diversion Program is to protect the citizens of Colorado by holding offenders accountable and engaging them in opportunities to make positive behavioral changes and become law-abiding, productive citizens.
DEFINITION AND PURPOSE
The Delta County Adult Diversion Program (Program) is a voluntary option that provides alternative criminal case processing for a defendant charged with a crime that ideally, upon successful completion of an individualized Program plan, results in permanent dismissal of the charge(s). The Program develops and implements individualized plans with defendants that address the behaviors that brought them to the attention of the system without drawing them further into that system.
The Program is viewed as a privilege, not a right. Referrals to this program are not based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. Diversion is intended to operate simply and flexibly. The District Attorney can agree to divert a defendant at any point before plea or trial, including before charges are filed. They can preserve their ability to reinitiate prosecution by requiring a signed “statement of facts” upon which the allegation is based.
The Program presents an opportunity to intervene very early on in the case which can result in a more significant impact on the defendant’s behavior: the less time that has elapsed between the arrest and the intervention, the more significant the potential effects on the precipitating behavior. The potential for collateral consequences of being involved in the criminal justice system today is substantial. Legislatures continue to pass and enhance laws to prohibit those convicted of crimes from many areas of employment. By minimizing collateral consequences and reducing stigma through offering diversionary programs for appropriate defendants, a local criminal justice system can enhance public safety. Long-term experience in the field of diversion points to the fact that a successful participant is less likely to be rearrested in the future if he is gainfully employed and can contribute responsibly to his family and community.
The collateral consequences of a criminal conviction can be devastating to future employment as well as for public assistance and higher educational opportunities. By offering this diversion program, some of these collateral consequences can be mitigated while still addressing the arrest behavior and enhancing the personal responsibility of the defendants who enter and complete the program. As a matter of fairness, no case should be diverted which cannot be prosecuted. By sending non-meritorious cases to diversion, the system undermines the integrity of the program and its ability to intervene meaningfully with defendants. Non-meritorious cases which are diverted lack the means to be prosecuted should the defendant fail the program. One of the underpinnings of diversion is that if the defendant fails to comply with the program, he or she will be returned to the court for prosecution. If that prosecution cannot take place, then the diversion program’s integrity is eroded.
Advantages of Diversion:
- Upon successful completion of the Program, charges are dismissed, and there is no criminal conviction.
- Participants receive skills, information, and assistance to reduce the risk of future incidents.
- Participants are accountable for their actions and agree to take steps to repair any harm caused by their actions.
PERIOD OF DIVERSION
Either before or after charges are filed, the district attorney may suspend prosecution of the offense for a period of up to one year. The period of diversion may be extended for an additional period if the failure to pay restitution is the sole condition of diversion that has not been fulfilled, because of an inability to pay, and the defendant has demonstrated a future ability to pay.
GUIDELINES FOR ELIGIBILITY
In determining whether a defendant is appropriate for diversion, the district attorney shall consider:
- The nature of the crime charged and the circumstances surrounding it;
- Any special characteristics or circumstances of the defendant;
- Whether diversion is consistent with the defendant’s rehabilitation and reintegration; and
- Whether the public interest will be best served by diverting the individual from prosecution.
The defendant shall not be denied the opportunity to consult with legal counsel before consenting to diversion.
All diversions shall be governed by the terms of an individualized diversion agreement signed by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney if the defendant is represented by an attorney, the deputy district attorney and or the district attorney representative. All diversion agreements shall include a condition that the defendants do not commit any criminal offense during the period of the contract. Diversion agreements may also include provisions, agreed to by the defendant, concerning payment of restitution, court costs, and the amount of supervision fee(s).
The requirements of the Diversion Program often are more extensive and demanding than those placed on a defendant whose case is prosecuted in a formal court filing. Diversion caseloads are lower than probation caseloads, and many times a Diversion disposition can more effectively hold the offender accountable for his or her actions by spending more time on managing the case and working with the defendant.
Every contract consists of five core elements:
- Regular diversion meetings: All clients must attend all scheduled meetings on time and maintain excellent and consistent communication with their Diversion Case Manager.
- Education and Employment goals: Clients must be employed part-time or successfully participate in a full-time education program.
- Behavior expectations: Clients must obey all federal and state laws as well as city/county ordinances.
- Substance use monitoring and treatment: The Program has a zero tolerance for the illegal use of drugs. This includes all illicit drugs, improperly used prescription drugs. If a client struggles with any substance misuse or abuse, they must get help from a licensed or certified addiction counselor and follow a treatment plan to remain in the program.
- Community restorative justice: This may include restitution and community service. All Diversion clients must complete community service with an approved non-profit or government organization in the community.
During the diversion period, the Program shall provide the level of supervision necessary to facilitate rehabilitation and ensure the defendant is completing the terms of the diversion agreement. Upon the defendant’s satisfactory completion of and discharge from supervision, the court shall dismiss with prejudice all charges against the defendant. The effect of the dismissal is to restore the defendant to the status he or she occupied before the arrest, citation, or summons. A person with an order of dismissal entered is not subject to a charge, prosecution, or liability under Colorado law of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement because of his or her failure to recite or acknowledge the arrest, citation, or summons in response to any inquiry made for any purpose. If Diversion were a result of a pre-file case, the case would not be prosecuted upon the successful completion of all the terms of the contract.
If the defendant violates the conditions of the diversion agreement, and or commits a new offense, the program shall provide written notice of the violation to the defendant, the deputy district attorney, and the court if the case was filed initially. The deputy district attorney, in his or her sole discretion, may initiate revocation of a diversion agreement by the filing of a criminal complaint, information, or indictment, or if charges have already been filed, by giving the court notice of intent to proceed with the prosecution or in the situation of a pre-file case the District Attorney will continue with the filing of the case and prosecution thereof.