Over 28 years of practice in criminal law a lot of clients have told me that they don’t want to participate in a diversionary program because they “don’t want to admit guilt of a crime they didn’t do.” I’m writing this blog article to let people know that applying for a diversionary program is not an admission of guilt and does not mean that you are guilty. In Connecticut there are a lot of diversionary programs for all sorts of things. Over the years the main diversionary program – the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program has been joined by an ever expanding list of diversionary programs. Top Connecticut criminal lawyers will tell you that in most cases it is usually a better idea to use a diversionary program than take your case to trial. Over the years a lot of my clients have resisted the idea of participating in a diversioary program because they feel that applying for a program is an admission of guilt. We are going to explore this in greater detail.
> What is a Diversionary Program?
The normal progression of a criminal case involves an arraignment, pre-trial negotiations, and a jury or bench trial where a determination of guilt or innocence is made. This all assumes that a plea bargain is not made where the accused agrees to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a reduced charge or an favorable agreed upon disposition. In practice 99% of criminal cases in Connecticut are resolved without trials either through diversionary programs or plea bargains. A diversionary program takes a crminal case off the trial path and diverts it into a special program that can result in a dismissal of all charges upon successuful completion of the program. If you apply for a diversionary program you will never have a trial and no one will ever determine if the charges against you were valid or not.
Entry into a diversionary program does not involve a plea to the charge itself but rather an application for the diversionary program which is not an admission of guilt. Generally, upon application for a diversionary program your file is sealed and public information about the charges against you are no longer avalable to the general public. If you successfully compete the requirements of the program (which vary depending on which program you are using) then the charges are dismised and the case is over. Your criminal file is then destroyed and you are deemed to have never been arrested by operation of statute.
>> Common Diversionary Programs
Over the years the orignal accelerated rehabilitation program has been joined by many other programs which can be used for various circumstances. It seems that Connecticut really has ebraced diversionary programs and a creative Stamford criminal lawyer can juggle the various programs to keep a client from getting any criminal record for a long time even when they get arrest several times. Some of the more common programs are:
Supervised Diversionary Program – for people suffering from emotional or mental health issues
Alcohol Education Program – For DUI cases
Family Violence Education Program – For Domestic Violence Cases
Drug Education Program – For drug possession crimes
CADIAC Program – For drug dependent individuals
Youthful Offender Program
Firearms Laws Violation Program – For vioation of certain firearm laws
School Violence Education Program – For incidents that occur in schools
Under 21 Drinking/Driving Program
As you can see we have a very extensive list of diversionary programs in Connecticut. I have had clients over the years who have used several of these programs – (often we have had clients who have used several of these programs to resolve various charges pending at one time).
>> How Does a Diversionary Program Work?
A diversionary program diverts your case from the normal criminal process and places it into a suspended status. Usually most diversionary programs apply only to individuals who have no criminal record but there are some exceptios. You should always consult with an experienced Stamford criminal attorney to review which diversionary programs may be available in your case. You never plead guilty to the charge or admit guilt. Applying to a diversionary program is not considered an admission of guilt. A lot of clients who are innocent do not want to apply for a diversionary program as they feel it does consitute some form of admission of guilt or acceptance of responsibility for the allegations against them. However, this is not correct. When you apply for a diversionary program your file is generally sealed and the public can no longer gain access to the information in the file or the charges against you. If you sucessfully complete the requirments of the program them the charges are dismissed and you are deemed to never have been arrested before. Each of the of the diversionary programs has its own requirements and they all differ. As mentioned above, you should always consult an experienced Connecticut criminal lawyer in order to asertain if your particular case qualifies for a particular diversinary program and what the requirements of the program consist of.
The advantages of a diversionary program are that you get your case dismissed without having to go to trial. Trials are expensive and take a lot of time and numerous delays. Also, no matter how strong your case there is always some possibility when going to trial that the jury may not get it “right” and you may be convicted. A diversionary program allows you to avoid the expense, delay and undertainty of a trial by recieving a certain dismisal of the charges against you. Generally, if we can not convince the State to drop or nolle the charges against you (which is the first line of defense) then I would always recomend that you utilize a diversionary program if available rather than taking a case to trial.
The only disadvantages of using a diversionary program is that some of them you can only use once and some of them only every ten years. A lot of clients do not want to “burn” a program for a case that is weak or for which they strong feel that they are innocent. I understand that sentiment. Anyone facing this kind of deliema should carefully review the facts of their case and all of the evidence with an expereineced Stamford criminal lawyer to get some good legal advice on the best course of action.
Another special circumstance is very high profile individuals who may be subject to a lot of media attention and who due to this unique circumstance may not want to utilize a diversionary program due to the “perception” that may be published by the media due to the use of a diversionary program. High profile individuals, public officials, police officers, attorneys and others who are under heightened scrutiny may carefully consider the perception that utilizing a diversionary program may have upon their public image and reputation. Any decision about whether to use a diversionary program or take a case to trial should only be made after careful consultation with a Stamford criminal lawyer and possibly some input from a public relations professional.
Finally, anyone with immigration consequences should consult with an immigration attorney before making any decisions on how to move forward with your criminal case. Generally, a certificate of disposition indicating that your case was “dismissed” after the use of a diversionary program should be sufficient for immigration purposes to demonstrate that your criminal case was resolved. However, this blog article can not give specific legal advice and does not give any suggestion or recommendation about immigration law. Anyone who is not a citizen of the United States who is facing a criminal charge should always consult both a Stamford criminal lawyer and an immigration lawyer to get advice on how the resolution of the criminal case may effect your immigration status.
Applying for, or using a diversionary program is not an admission of guilt. The fact that you applied for, or used a diversionary program does not make you look like you are guilty of the offense you were charged with. Once you have completed the diversionary program the end result is that the case is dismissed, the file detroyed and you are deemed to have never been arrested before. Using a diversionary program can be a very effective way of resolving a criminal case without the expenense and delay of a trial.
If you have been charged with a criminal or motor vehcile offense in Connecticut and would like to explore the possibility of using a diversionary program please contact the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman at (203) 357-5555 today or use this contact form to reach us. Remember always assert your right to remain silent and refuse to answer any Police questions and never consent to searches of your home, business or vehicle.