PRE-TRIAL DIVERSIONS IN INDIANA: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED
On a nice spring day in April 2015, a tour bus carrying rapper Nelly was stopped and searched for drugs. When all was said and done, the police found marijuana, methamphetamine and other drugs. So, Nelly and some of his crew were arrested on Felony and Misdemeanor drug charges.
NELLY GETS NO JAIL AND QUALIFIES FOR PRE-TRIAL DIVERSION
Fast forward to December 11, 2015, Nelly pleads guilty but catches a serious break as his felony charge for possession of methamphetamine is dropped and he only pleads to a misdemeanor. But wait, it gets “gooder,” Nelly's attorney argued, and the Judge agreed, that because he was a first time offender, he qualified for what is generally called a “pre-trial diversion.” So, if Nelly can avoid any new arrests and follows all court orders, his remaining charges will be dismissed altogether and he will not have a criminal conviction on his record. Nelly's case is in Tennessee but what if his case had been here in Indiana instead, or better yet what if YOU (or a loved one) faced the exact same charges as Nelly, here in Indiana, would you be eligible for a similar diversion program? I'm glad you asked, lean in and let me explain how such a case might play out in the great state of Indiana.
WHAT ARE DIVERSION AGREEMENTS AND DO THEY EXIST IN INDIANA?
A pre-trial diversion is an agreement between the parties to a criminal case, namely the Prosecutor and the Defendant, who is usually represented by a criminal defense lawyer. These diversion agreements typically only apply to non-violent misdemeanor cases where the Defendant has little to no previous criminal history. Diversion agreements normally call for the Defendant to avoid any new criminal charges for a certain amount of time and perform community service or participate in some type of rehabilitative program (drug treatment, educational programs such as NA or AA, etc.). If the Defendant successfully completes the agreement, the pending criminal charges are dismissed and the person avoids a criminal conviction.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR PRE-TRIAL DIVERSION?
Not to be evasive but IT DEPENDS. Actually, it depends on several things but first it depends on the Deputy Prosecutor handling the case. This is because pre-trial diversion agreements are typically offered at the discretion of the Prosecutor's office. In deciding whether a person qualifies for a diversion agreement, the Prosecutor should consider things such as:
- the Defendant's criminal history or lack thereof
- whether or not there was a victim (if so, what are victim's wishes)
- whether the Defendant acted under duress, necessity due to emergency, etcetera (example: defendant drove to transport a seriously injured family member despite having a suspended driver's license)
- are there other compelling reasons to offer diversion in a particular case, i.e., the person has a strong history of positive contributions to the community.
A DIVERSION AGREEMENT IS REACHED, NOW WHAT?
Once the parties agree that a diversion agreement is in order, the agreement is then presented to the Court for approval. Once approved by the Court, the Judge will schedule a compliance hearing in the near future to determine whether the Defendant has held up their end of the bargain and should have their charges dismissed. There you have it, diversion programs in Indiana in a nutshell.
SO WHAT IF NELLY HAD BEEN CHARGED INDIANA?
So the short answer as to what would've happened if Nelly's case had occurred in Indianapolis, probably the same thing that happened in Tennessee. This is true mainly because Nelly was a first time offender with no previous criminal history. Also, there was no victim in the case and no violence was involved, so most Prosecutor's facing those facts, would likely find that he qualified to be placed on pre-trial diversion.
QUALITY DEFENSE ATTORNEY MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
Having a clean criminal history meant everything for Nelly but for many “everyday” people with an identical clean history, it means absolutely nothing. Now, before you think that I'm about to rant about how celebrities are treated better than the rest of us (that's another article for another day), I'm not. But having practiced law in Indianapolis (Marion County) and the surrounding counties for years now, I can tell you that every day people that qualify for diversion agreements, enter into guilty plea agreements and have criminal convictions placed on their records. Why? Well, the quality of legal representation makes all the difference. A criminal defense attorney that is well versed in Indiana criminal law, will review your background and know whether you qualify for a diversion agreement and negotiate with the Prosecutor to protect your future. On the other hand, I've seen people try to represent themselves or hire an attorney that doesn't play in the criminal defense space everyday, and they simply don't know what they don't know, and they take the an unnecessary hit (a criminal conviction). The truth is what you don't know, absolutely CAN HURT YOU and a quality defense attorney can make the difference.
At the Law Office of Corey L. Scott, we have been in Indianapolis (Marion County) court rooms every day for years, in the trenches, fighting for freedom and future of “everyday” people like you. We understand the “in and outs,” of diversion agreement law here in Indiana and we know how the deals are done and how to get the best results possible. Period.
If you have been charged with a non-violent misdemeanor and believe that you may qualify for a pre-trial diversion agreement, don't wait, don't hesitate (he who hesitates in war is lost), get on the phone and “CALL COREY” now at (317) 634-0101. It is the best call that you can make!! Don't delay, CALL COREY NOW!!