Pretrial Diversion in Massachusetts
A criminal conviction can have a lasting impact on your life. Whether you are trying to avoid jail time or being placed on probation, hoping to get into school, applying for a job or certain types of housing, or just want to keep your record clean, it is critical to consider all your options before deciding how to handle your case. Attorney Patrick J. Murphy is a veteran Boston criminal defense lawyer who has more than 25 years of experience helping clients keep convictions off their record. He can help you understand all of your options, so you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.What Is Pre-Trial Diversion?
The criminal justice system is not only focused on punishing people for breaking the law. Rehabilitation is a key component, especially for those who lack a lengthy criminal history. Lawmakers, judges and often prosecutors all agree that a single mistake should not dictate the rest of a person’s life.
Pre-trial diversion is an alternative to prosecution. If you engage in the pre-trial diversion process, you give up your right to fight the case against and agree to participate in certain programming. The idea is that you and society in general are better off if you take steps to improve yourself or your community, rather than ending up with a conviction.
Pre-trial diversion programs frequently focus on drug and alcohol treatment, mental health treatment, education, job training, and community service. Pre-trial diversion also removes many cases from the criminal trial process, allowing courts to focus on more serious offenses.
To qualify for pretrial diversion, you must meet the following criteria:
- You cannot have a conviction since you turned 18;
- You cannot have a pending criminal case or an active warrant;
- You face a crime that carried the potential for incarceration; and
- The district court has jurisdiction over your case.
Even If you otherwise qualify for pre-trial diversion, certain offenses are ineligible. For example, if you are charged with a crime punishable by more than five years in jail or an offense for which a continuance without a finding is unavailable, pre-trial diversion is unavailable. Similarly, if the alleged crime involved a victim, the court must get their opinion on whether you should qualify for pre-trial diversion. The prosecution can also object.When to Apply for Pre-Trial Diversion
If you are interested in pre-trial diversion after being charged with a Boston crime, you will make the request at your arraignment. This is the first court appearance after your arrest. If the court finds you qualify for diversion, it will continue the arraignment and order an assessment to determine your final eligibility. However, even if it appears as though you may not qualify for pretrial diversion, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor and court that you are deserving of the opportunity.Why Pursue Pre-Trial Diversion?
The most obvious benefit to pre-trial diversion is that it keeps a conviction off your record. If you successfully complete a pre-trial diversion program, the prosecution will withdraw the case. However, because you enter pre-trial diversion before arraignment, it also means that there will not be any record of your arrest. Thus, other than the court system and law enforcement, no one will know that you were arrested.The Law Offices of Patrick. J. Murphy Can Help You Keep Your Record Clear
If you’ve been arrested for a crime in Boston, don’t assume that you will end up with a criminal record; you have options. Attorney Patrick Murphy understands the importance of keeping a conviction off your record and will do everything possible to help you qualify for pre-trial diversion. Over the years, he has fostered a respectful relationship with judges and prosecutors, who value his opinions and recommendations. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Boston criminal defense attorney, give the Law Offices of Patrick J. Murphy a call at (617) 367-0450.