Getting arrested can be a traumatic experience. With criminal charges, possible incarceration, and heavy fines looming overhead, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You may not think that the potential punishments fit the crime, especially if the wrongdoing was committed in a moment of desperation or intoxication.
Tarrant County understands that not everyone who commits a crime is a bad person. Numerous studies also show that incarceration and strict penalties can do more harm than good.
Thankfully, years behind bars aren’t a guarantee, even if you are found guilty of a crime. You might be able to qualify for a criminal diversion program that keeps you out of prison while still holding you accountable for your actions. These programs can even help you find a job, keep your criminal record clean, and enjoy a second chance at life after mistakes.
If any of these programs apply to you, act fast. There may be deadlines for filling out an application. What kind of criminal diversion programs does Tarrant County have?
Felony Alcohol Intervention Program
Multiple DWIs can put you behind bars for years. These crimes can also be a cry for help or a sign that the defendant has a dangerous addiction to alcohol. The Felony Alcohol Intervention Program (FAIP) aims to help defendants overcome their addiction through means other than incarceration.
Applicants must be charged with a felony DWI and have no prior convictions to apply. The program includes:
- Four years of probation
- A partner in recovery (PIR)
- Intensive monitoring from a case manager
- Weekly compliance hearings
- Up to one year without a driver’s license
Mental Health Diversion Program
This program begins before trial. It aims to help people with a history of mental health issues through the criminal justice process and set them up for success. The program lasts between nine months and two years and requires a guilty plea. Once the program is completed, the applicant’s record will be eligible for immediate expunction.
Requirements to finish the program include:
- Taking all medications required by a psychiatrist
- Attending at least six individual counseling sessions
- Staying sober throughout the program (drug tests will be administered)
- Weekly calls and bi-weekly court appearances
Veterans Court Diversion Program
Veterans with mental health disorders may be able to enter into this program. This particular diversion program aims to provide a specialized treatment plan for individual vets and help them to transition back into society.
Vets will have to plead guilty in order to enter the program, which could last up to two years. Once the program is completed, the case will be automatically dismissed. Requirements to complete the Veterans Court Diversion Program include:
- Working closely with case managers and service providers
- Attending bi-monthly compliance hearings
- Paying program fees (up to $500)
- Staying sober and taking all prescribed medications
Reaching Independence Through Self-Empowerment Program (RISE)
RISE was specifically made for women who have a history of prostitution-related offenses. The program uses a personalized treatment plan to help the defendant change the course of their life and move toward mental stability, financial stability, and a sober life. Case managers create plans that may involve job training, housing, life skills, and whatever criteria will help the defendant get back on their feet.
The program may last longer than two years and defendants will have to stay sober and attend bi-monthly compliance hearings in order to complete it.
Youthful Offender Diversion Alternative (YODA)
Juveniles make mistakes. Unfortunately, an assault conviction can set a juvenile up for rejections from colleges and hardships while finding a job. The YODA program offers an alternative for juveniles who have been charged with assaulting someone outside of their family. YODA only accepts first-time offenders between the ages of 17 and 25.
A case manager will be assigned to the defendant and help them make goals regarding a non-violent life. The defendant must also stay sober and submit to random drug tests throughout the program. Once the program is completed, the defendant’s case will be dismissed.
There is an extension of this program called “Other Behavioral Intervention with Assault (Non-Family)” (yes, that’s right – OBIWAN) that may be more appropriate for the defendant.
Domestic Violence Diversion Program
Offenders accused of domestic violence may be able to enter this program and undergo monitoring from a case manager. Not everyone accused of domestic violence can go through this diversion program, though: defendants with a stalking history, other pending charges, or a history of violating protective orders cannot participate.
Victims must also consent to the defendant’s participation in the program.
First Offender Drug Program (FODP)
First-time offenders who have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor drug offense may enter this program. Throughout the course of the program, participants will have to submit to drug tests and pay a fee.
For felony offenses, participants will have to pay $550 and remain in the program for 180 days. Misdemeanor offenses require $350 and 90 days.
Do you see yourself benefitting from any of these diversion programs? Reach out to a Tarrant County lawyer for more information on how to enter these programs and avoid incarceration.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.