Arrests for the possession of small amounts of marijuana are very common in Lafayette Parish. …
Many of our clients facing criminal charges are understandably curious about the 15th Judicial District (Lafayette, Vermilion and Acadia Parishes) Pretrial Intervention Program. This is a program open to first time offenders with non-violent charges. The benefit of pretrial diversion is that people with no prior criminal charges can avoid jail time and the stigma of a criminal charge on their permanent record. The following is a summary of the process, the requirements and the cost of entering the program.
Who is Eligible for Pretrial Diversion?
First time offenders with non-violent misdemeanor or felony charges may be eligible for pretrial diversion. On some occasions, pretrial diversion may be offered automatically without the intervention of a criminal defense lawyer. However, if pretrial diversion is not offered, you may need the services of a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. Eligible criminal charges can include misdemeanor possession of marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute, shoplifting, simple criminal damage to property, a DUI, and theft under $750. First time non-violent drug charges, in particular, can be eligible for pretrial diversion. The goal is to keep non violent offenders out of the criminal justice system. Additionally, the program provides services such as counseling or drug and alcohol treatment to prevent any future criminal charges.
How Does Pretrial Diversion Work?
If you are eligible for pretrial diversion, the District Attorney’s office will determine what fees and activities will be required. All regulations must be followed to successfully complete the program. Failure to complete these regulations can cause the candidate to be kicked out of the pretrial program and back into the regular criminal justice system. The requirements will be based on the offenders’ specific situation, but can include random drug and alcohol tests, counseling, classes, substance abuse treatment, community service, and the payment of restitution. Once a person has completed all of the regulations of the program, the criminal charges will be dropped and the arrest can be expunged and will not appear on any public records.
How Much Does the Pretrial Diversion Program Cost?
After you hire an attorney and he or she is able to get you into the pretrial diversion program, there are fees to enter and complete the program that are charged by the District Attorney’s office. Pretrial diversion is not an inexpensive program. Costs vary depending on the criminal charge. For example, a DUI first can cost up to $5,000 while a misdemeanor drug charge may cost $1,200.
If the criminal charge is not drug-related, the enrollment fees are $200 for a misdemeanor charge and $50 for each additional charge or $400 for a felony charge and $50 for each additional charge. There is a misdemeanor evaluation charge of $100 and a felony evaluation charge of $250. The administration supervision fee is $30 per month. There can also be a $35 fee for random drug testing if that is part of the requirements. Any classes or services that a participant is required to attend will also carry a fee. If any restitution is owed, that will also need to be paid to successfully complete the pretrial program.
For offenders with a drug charge, the costs will be an enrollment fee of $500 for a misdemeanor drug charge and $1,000 for a felony drug charge. There will be a fee of $250 for an evaluation for misdemeanor drug charges and a fee of $375 for a felony drug evaluation. Random drug tests carry a minimum fee of $35. There can also be fees for required classes and services.
Offenders with a DUI charge will have a $1,000 enrollment fee, various fees for alcohol screening and monitoring, fees for classes, plus the monthly administrative fee of $30. The total amount depends on the specific requirements.
How Long Will it Take to Complete the Pretrial Diversion Program?
Completion of the program ranges from 6 months to a year, depending on the criminal charge. However, it is very important to note that even though there is no conviction on your record, the arrest record will remain until it is expunged. There is a five year waiting period from the completion of the pretrial diversion program until the arrest is eligible for expungement. If you are arrested and fingerprinted, the arrest will still show up on your record for five years.
The pretrial program is intended to rehabilitate people who do not have prior convictions and who are not considered to be prone to committing crimes. First time offenders who are accepted into the program are people with a minimal crime, no large amounts of money missing, and no violence involved. The goal of the program is to put people back the way they were before the crime. If you are eligible to enter the program and successfully complete all of the requirements, you will be able to put the criminal charge behind you and move on with your life. This is a general introduction to the pretrial diversion process in the 15th JDC. The specific requirements and costs will depend on the individual’s situation, so if you feel you may be eligible for pretrial diversion, you may call my office at 337 704-2615 for a free consultation.