Diversion is frequently offered by the State in misdemeanor criminal cases for first time offenders. At its most basic level, diversion is an agreement between the State and the client whereby the State agrees to dismiss the charge(s) upon completion of a consequence by the client. The consequence could involve a class, counseling, or community service. Diversion is not offered in DUI cases. Diversion in domestic violence cases and more serious misdemeanor matters is sometimes available though it may be supervised and/or consist of numerous hours of counseling and classes. The judge does not decide if diversion is available - it is the prosecutor's decision whether to make diversion available in a particular case.
There are two forms of diversion depending on the court and the prosecuting agency involved: deferred judgment or deferred prosecution. Deferred judgement diversion, which is currently the policy in Tucson City Court, requires the client to enter a plea of guilty and then complete the assigned consequence(s). The case is dismissed, the guilty plea is vacated and no judgment is entered against the client once the consequence is completed. However, if the consequence is not completed, then judgement is entered and the client is convicted and sentenced. In deferred prosecution diversion, a form of which is currently used by the Pima County Attorney's Office, the prosecution of the case is postponed while the client completes the consequence(s). If these are not completed, then the prosecutor resumes the prosecution. No guilty plea is required in deferred prosecution diversion and once diversion is completed the State moves to dismiss the case. However, the Pima County Attorney's Office does require an admission of guilt to the diversion program administrator which could be used against the client if he or she does not complete the diversion program and the prosecution of the case is resumed.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense and are seeking representation, please contact the office of Sherick and Bleier to discuss a possible diversion disposition of your case.