Often times people who find themselves in the criminal justice system have just made a mistake they wish they could undo. The fear of consequences--including jail time and lengthy probation--can be paralyzing. In certain cases, diversion may be an option. Quite literally, Rhode Island's diversion programs divert people out of the criminal justice system and onto a path where they can keep a criminal conviction off their record. There are programs for both felony and misdemeanor diversion. The programs are run by separate entities and have separate rules. The end result, however, is the same – a clean record.
Diversion isn't an easy path. You have to work to earn your clean record. However, in some cases it can be done.
Felony diversion is a program run by the state Attorney General's office. It is generally only available to first-time felony offenders in cases involving non-violent crimes including (but not limited to)
- Breaking and entering a business
- Certain types of theft
- Driving a motor vehicle without owner consent
- Failure to return leased property
- Falsified or altered prescriptions
- Certain other controlled substance crimes
- Passing counterfeit bills
Traffic violations or juvenile truancy will not disqualify someone from a potential diversion acceptance, however, a lengthy arrest record, multiple misdemeanor convictions, or a lengthy juvenile record could prohibit diversion participation.
Diversion is only designed for people who are actually guilty of the offense charged and who are willing and able to admit guilt and take responsibility. Diversion participants are expected to pay restitution, attend mental health or chemical dependency treatment as directed, and perform community service. Diversion is a privilege extended at the discretion of the Attorney General's office. There is an interview process which is attended by the defendant and their lawyer to determine whether someone is a good candidate for diversion.
Misdemeanor diversion is designed for people with chemical dependency issues or mental health problems that contribute to their crimes. Just as with felony diversion, participation includes a requirement of treatment as recommended. All participants are also expected to attend eight weeks of Life Skills education. Finally, they must participate in data collection interviews at six and twelve months.
If You are Charged with a Crime in Rhode Island
If you are charged with a crime in Rhode Island, don't attempt to represent yourself. Instead, contact Kensley Barrett, Esquire, for a free consultation. Criminal law is complicated and no one should attempt to deal with their criminal charges alone. Kensley Barrett is an experienced criminal defense attorney. He practices throughout the state of Rhode Island, focusing exclusively on criminal matters. If you appear to qualify for a diversion, Kensley Barrett, Esquire, can assist you in the application process. He can counsel you about common pitfalls which may result in an unsuccessful diversion so you best know how to proceed. Contact his office today.