What Are Some Alternative Programs Available To First Offenders?

There are several.

The first is dismissal conditioned upon taking some sort of class. These are rarely offered, but I have been able to get these for my clients.

For example, if you’re charged with reckless driving, you could be offered a dismissal if you take a defensive driving class. Or if you’re charged with assault, you could be offered a dismissal of you take an anger management class or participate in a series of anti-domestic violence classes.

The second type of alternative program is called “pretrial diversion.” Pretrial diversion is a type of probation where if you do everything you’re supposed to, the case will eventually be dismissed and can be expunged from your record.

To get a pretrial diversion, I have to submit an application to the prosecutor handling your case explaining why you deserve pretrial diversion. Certain types of cases are not eligible, and you need a defense attorney’s help to create the best possible packet to maximize your chances of being approved.

The third type of alternative program is called “deferred adjudication.” Deferred adjudication is basically a form of probation (in Texas probation is called “community supervision” but it’s the same thing) where you plead guilty but your guilty plea is not entered into the court’s records. You’re placed on probation for a set period of time and if you successfully complete it, the guilty plea is never entered. You have no final conviction and you’re eligible to have your record sealed (the legal term is “nondisclosed”), sometimes immediately, and sometimes after a waiting period.

Law enforcement will always be able to see a deferred adjudication, but private employers and people who don’t have access to law enforcement databases will not be able to see it. You’ll be able to honestly answer on job applications or licensing applications that you’ve never been arrested for or put on probation for a crime.

The last type of alternative programs are ones offered through Harris County’s specialty courts, such as Felony Mental Health Court and Veterans Court. Whether you’re eligible for these programs depends on your charge and your background.

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