Diversion programs are programs that offer first-time offenders, minor offenders, youth, and mentally unwell individuals the chance to receive treatment and/or right their wrongs outside of jail. If an offender successfully completes a diversion program, he or she may receive a reduced or deferred sentenced, or the judge may dismiss the charges entirely. As of yet, Oklahoma does not have statewide diversion programs. However, it does allow counties and municipalities to use their discretion to decide whether or not to offer diversion programs and, if they do, to whom.
Examples of Diversion Programs in Oklahoma
Midwest City , the first municipality in Oklahoma to undertake a diversion program, aims to reduce the number of repeat offenders it sees move through the court system. Research has revealed that repeat offenders often suffer from addiction or mental disorders. The city hopes to reduce the number of repeat offenders in the jail system by offering first time offenders the opportunity to participate in rehabilitation programs or to undergo behavioral health treatment services. Part of the program involves empowering first time offenders with the knowledge and confidence they need to care for themselves while remaining law-abiding citizens.
Oklahoma County has intake and diversion services for youth offenders. The Intake and Diversion Services Unit is responsible for the screening and supervision of youth and non-adjudicated youth. The primary responsibilities of this unit include screening detention admission requests, conducting preliminary inquiries on new referrals, and supervising youth in their diversion programs. Often, the IDSU is the first point of contact for the Juvenile Justice System after the police department. The youth and his or her parent or guardian works with the District Attorney to devise an adequate program.
Other counties throughout the state have diversion programs for first time DUI offenders . These programs aim to help drivers who were arrested for intoxicated driving get the treatment they need to both refrain from drunk driving in the future and to stay out of jail.
The Benefits of Diversion Programs
Diversion programs supposedly benefit all parties. For offenders, they offer a way to remedy their wrongs without going to jail or paying exorbitant fees. For the state, they serve as a way to reduce costs that come with holding trials, hiring public offenders, and housing convicted persons in jail. Whether or not they work is still up for debate.
Consult With a Ponca City Criminal Law Attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a minor crime in Oklahoma, and if you are a first-time offender, you may qualify for a diversion program. However, note that most prosecutors are not quick to offer such programs as a solution. An experienced Ponca City criminal defense lawyer can bring up the option on your behalf and fight for your right to treatment or another type of diversion program and therefore, for your right to stay out of jail. To learn more about diversion programs in your county, and to explore your defense options, contact Boettcher, Devinney, Ingle & Wicker today.