Pre-Trial Diversion

Massachusetts Pre-trial Diversion Program Attorney

Being charged for a criminal offense in Massachusetts can result in serious consequences. Depending on the charge there may be the possibility of facing a committed sentence, a long period of probation and/or fines and court fees. However, most Massachusetts Courts have a “Pre-Trial Diversion Program” for individuals who have had little or no experience in the criminal court system or are veterans. This program is typically run by the local District Attorney’s Office. An experienced attorney can readily evaluate if the charge a client is facing is one that the District Attorney’s Office would agree to resolve through this program. Disposing of a case in this manner means that the client NEVER gets in front of a judge and there is NO entry on his or her board of probation record.

Contact Boston pre-trial diversion attorney Kathleen McCarthy for a consultation. Call 978-975-8060 to speak with her directly if you want to discuss what types of options are available for a particular criminal charge. Attorney Kathleen McCarthy is available to help you avoid being unnecessarily prosecuted. People make mistakes and poor judgment calls all the time. Don’t let a poor decision impact your criminal history. Boston Attorney Kathleen McCarthy can help keep a variety of offenses including shoplifting, minor in possession of alcohol, drug offenses and possessing a fake identification charge from having a significant impact on your life.

What is a Pretrial Diversion Program?

Pretrial diversion programs are aimed to provide criminal defendants with the opportunity of avoiding the traditional criminal justice system. Instead of being prosecuted through the criminal court, pretrial diversion provides defendants the opportunity to enter a program in which he/she must meet specific requirements. For example, if the defendant was charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol he/she may be eligible to enter into a pretrial diversion program for the treatment of alcohol addiction or abuse. Upon the completion of the program, the charge(s) lodged against the defendant will be dismissed. Eligible defendants can participate in community service or attend court ordered educational/treatment programs.

Criminal Charges Eligible for Pretrial Diversion

Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L. ch.276A §1-11) outlines the requirements permitting district and municipal courts to “divert” defendants charged with various misdemeanor offenses. To qualify for a pretrial diversion program, the following requirements must be met:

  1. The defendant must be between the ages of 17 – 22-years-old;
  2. The defendant must be accused of a misdemeanor charge as a first offense;
  3. The court must have jurisdiction over the crime charged; and
  4. The defendant must have no warrants for arrest or pending criminal cases pending in federal or state court.

The age requirement is not applicable to adult veterans. Certain diversion programs are in place specifically tailored to veterans of all ages. In Massachusetts, the following charges are typically eligible for pretrial probation for first time offenders:

  1. Theft/Shoplifting
  2. Drunk Driving
  3. Assault

If the defendant violates the terms of their diversion program requirements, his/her stay of proceedings will likely be terminated and the case will proceed through the criminal court system.

Request Pretrial Diversion Prior To A Criminal Arraignment

Ideally, a defendant must request a pretrial diversion before his/her arraignment. You should hire a Boston pretrial diversion program attorney who has experience in securing this disposition for her clients. An attorney should vigorously advocate that the client is a good candidate for this type of disposition. Typically, extra-curricular activities, success in school and a commitment to the community are factors that the District Attorney’s Office will evaluate in determining whether a client is a good candidate for this program.

The defendant’s attorney can also request for a continuance (delay) of the arraignment, in order to prepare a request for diversion program on the defendant’s behalf and find a suitable program in which the court would likely accept. Once the defendant is arraigned, pretrial diversion will no longer be available. However, an attorney may still be able to request for a continuance without a finding, or pretrial probation in order to divert further prosecution.

Military Veteran Pretrial Diversion Program

As mentioned above, veterans are eligible for pretrial diversion pursuant to the Valor Act. This is governed by Massachusetts General Law chapter 266A section 10. Under the law, a court can grant a motion for a qualifying veteran to attend a diversion program and avoid being prosecuted for the alleged criminal offense. To be eligible, the veteran must meet the following criteria:

  1. The defendant must be a veteran, active service member, or possess past military history;
  2. The defendant must be charged with a state crime;
  3. The defendant must not have any previous state or federal convictions; and
  4. The defendant must have no warrants for arrest or pending criminal cases pending in federal or state court.

If the veteran meets the requirements above, his/her attorney should consider this type of disposition. The United State Department of Veteran Affairs administers an assessment of the defendant to determine if a diversion program is in his/her best interest. Upon the completion of the assessment, a recommendation is made to the court in which is reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office. If the DA consents to the proposed program, the court usually orders diversion of the case. The Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services also provides assessments and recommendations.

Veterans eligible to program are often referred to Mission Direct Vet (MDV). MDV provides treatment programs for veterans dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues. Upon completion of the program, the DA will dismiss the charge against the veteran.

Hire Boston Pretrial Diversion Attorney

Boston pretrial diversion program attorney Kathleen McCarthy provides legal representation to residents of Lawrence, Lowell, Haverhill, Concord, Ayer and Newburyport, Massachusetts. Call 978-975-8060 to speak with her directly.