John E. DeVito, Esq., of DeVito and Visconti, P.A.

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Sentencing- Pretrial Diversion

PRETRIAL DIVERSION- An Important but Little Use Disposition in Criminal Cases.

If a criminal defendant, charged with a crime in a District Court in Massachusetts, is between the ages of 17 and 22, that defendant may be eligible for pretrial diversion. Pretrial diversion permits the court to divert a criminal defendant from the criminal process. The defendant avoids arraignment, no conviction enters and the criminal charge does not get entered onto any criminal record.

There are certain eligibility requirements before diversion is accepted. Those requirements are as follows.

1. The defendant must be at least 17 years of age and must not be more than 22 years of age.

2. The crime charged must be one which the District Court has jurisdiction (not Superior Court felonies).

3. Defendant must have no previous criminal conviction in Massachusetts or anywhere else in the United States except for a traffic violation for which no imprisonment can be imposed.

4. The defendant must have no warrants, continuances, appeals or criminal cases pending in Massachusetts or anywhere else in the United States.

5. The defendant must have received a recommendation for a program stating that he would benefit from participating in such a program.

If the court approves the program and the defendant completes its requirements, the defendant avoids arraignment, avoids a conviction and nothing is entered on his criminal record.

This disposition is only available if the defendant can stop his arraignment. If a defendant is arrested for a crime it is likely that he will be brought to court the next day for an arraignment. The defendant needs a criminal defense attorney to appear with him at the arraignment and request that the court delay the arraignment for at least two weeks, to allow the attorney to prepare a request for diversion and permit the defendant time to find a program which would be beneficial to the defendant and acceptable to the court. If the defendant is arraigned this disposition is no longer available because the criminal process will have begun and a criminal record will have been created.

If one is a first-time criminal defendant between the ages of 17 and 22 and has been arrested or summonsed to court for an arraignment, consult a qualified criminal attorney prior to the arraignment in an effort to stop the criminal process.

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