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What is Pretrial Diversion?


Pretrial diversion in Georgia is usually a one-shot deal that will allow for your record to be expunged (restricted, sealed) if you successfully complete all terms agreed to for the program.

Pretrial diversion programs vary from court to court, but generally, they are an agreement between the prosecutor and you and your attorney to settle criminal charges against you. Charges that can be referred to pretrial diversion include first offense shoplifting charges, underage consumption or minor in possession charges, marijuana possession charges, and the like. Usually pretrial diversion is only available to first offenders, and prosecutors will pull your background check both before and during the program to ensure you have no other charges in your past, or pending.

The main advantage to a pretrial diversion program is that it's an agreement with the prosecutor, not the court. Therefore, the worst that can happen if you fail pretrial diversion is that your case is transferred back to the court to be dealt with. Of course, it's not good to be kicked out of pretrial, but this does provide a safety net. By comparison, a first offender plea in Georgia involves you pleading guilty first and then the charges being dropped later, if you make it through. If you fail first offender, the judge can immediately sentence you and your record will forever show your original charges.

Pretrial diversion terms are negotiated by your attorney and the prosecutor, but can include things like:

  • fees for the program ($300-600 generally)
  • shoplifting seminar(s) (on shoplifting or theft cases)
  • community service
  • alcohol and drug evaluations (substance abuse related crimes)
  • alcohol and drug screens (all cases)
  • family violence courses
  • anger management evaluation and treatment
  • a period of time under court supervision (typically between 90 days and 12 months)

In some jurisdictions you can begin these requirements before court and be credited.

If you have been charged with shoplifting, possession of drugs, family violence, or MIP and would like to find out more about how pretrial diversion could work for your case, give us a call at (770) 676 1340. One of our partners will be happy to discuss the specifics of your case and give you our insight on the potential for pretrial diversion in your case. We will also give you specifics on how your charges and pretrial diversion affect your record, both now and down the road.

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