If you’re convicted of a crime, you’ll have to deal with consequences such as jail time, fines, probation, and a criminal record. Did you know, though, that you might be able to avoid those consequences depending on who you are and what type of crime you’ve committed?
Here in Tarrant County, we have a number of diversion programs that aim to rehabilitate an offender instead of punishing him through the criminal justice system. Let’s look at what programs are available, how they work, and who is eligible.
Diversion Programs in Tarrant County
Tarrant County has a number of specialty courts and diversion programs to address certain offenders and specific low-level offenses.
Felony Alcohol Intervention Program (FAIP). FAIP is a “post adjudication program for the high-risk repeat DWI offender.” The program aims to address the offender’s substance abuse problem as well as change their attitude and behavior when it comes to drinking and driving. You can be eligible for the program if you have an alcohol abuse problem and are charged with a felony DWI, which means you have two or more previous DWI convictions.
Veterans Court Diversion Program. If you are a veteran facing a criminal charge, you could be eligible for this diversion program. The goal of the program is to divert veterans from the criminal justice system in order to get them the rehabilitation they need to be healthy, productive, law-abiding citizens.
Youthful Offender Diversion Alternative (YODA). The YODA program is for first-time, youthful offenders between the ages of 17 and 25 “who have been arrested for assault against a non-intimate family member (defined as blood relative, related by marriage or intimate relationship with another family member).”
Other Behavioral Intervention with Assault Non-Family (OBI WAN) Program. The OBI WAN program is similar to the YODA program but it is “for defendants with simple assault cases involving persons who are not family members.”
Domestic Violence Diversion Program. This program focuses on rehabilitating domestic violence offenders who have committed partner-on-partner violence.
First Offender Drug Program (FODP). FODP is for first-time offenders of specific drug crimes including but not limited to possession of a controlled substance (under 2 ounces), possession of marijuana (under 4 ounces), and possession of a dangerous drug. The program aims to help offenders self-correct with minimum supervision.
Mental Health Court Diversion Program. This program hopes to identify offenders with mental health impairments in order to rehabilitate them by achieving “mental stability and non-criminal behavior.”
Reaching Independence through Self-Empowerment (RISE). The RISE program aims to rehabilitate women who have a history of prostitution or prostitution-related offenses in order to help them reach their full potential as healthy, productive, law-abiding citizens.
How Do Diversion Programs Work?
All diversion programs require two things of their participants.
First, the participant has to admit that he or she did in fact commit the crime they are being accused of. Second, the offender has to be willing not only to participate in the program but also to make changes in their life to successfully become rehabilitated.
The structure of every diversion program is different, but they all tend to involve treatment, counseling, and behavior modification.
Diversion programs usually have strict rules that you must abide by, but upon successful completion of your program, your case will return to court to be dismissed. While a dismissal is great news, your arrest record might still be viewable. If that happens, you will want to find out about having your record sealed or expunged.
If you don’t successfully complete the diversion program, your case will return to court where the judge can then give you a sentence, which, at that point, can possibly include jail time.
Who Is Eligible for Diversion Programs?
Every diversion program offered by Tarrant County provides a list of criteria in order to determine if you are eligible to participate. Check out the eligibility requirements on the website of your particular program here.
Is There a Time Requirement for Diversion Programs?
Again, all diversion programs are different, but if you are interested in participating in one you need to act quickly because they have strict deadlines. Most deadlines are within 60 or 90 days of your case filing, so make sure you don’t miss that date.
If you’d like to learn more about diversion programs and see if you’re eligible to participate in one, reach out to an experienced Ft. Worth criminal defense lawyer today to get your questions answered and to get the process started.
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.