Pre-trial Diversion

Killeen Pre-trial Diversion and Deferred Adjudication Lawyers

Keeping criminal charges off your record in Harker Heights, Waco, Copperas Cove and across Central Texas

Facing criminal charges for the first time is intimidating and confusing. You might be wondering if you’ll have to go to trial, or jail, and if a small mistake is going to follow you around for the rest of your life in the form of a criminal record. The good news is that Texas has several programs for first-time offenders that can keep you out of court. You may also be eligible for diversion programs or deferred adjudication, which means you can complete community supervision and clear your charges or conviction.

The criminal defense attorneys at the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm in Killeen can help you keep a criminal conviction off your record. We have years of experience defending first-time criminal offenders, and we can help you too. We understand that one moment of poor judgement shouldn’t have to affect your entire future. Talk to us about the options available to you.

Pre-trial diversion versus deferred adjudication in Texas

As a first-time offender, you may be eligible for options not available to repeat offenders. Depending on your circumstances, you may receive deferred adjudication by the court, or you may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program, which takes your case out of prosecution. Following are more details about each and how they might benefit you.

What is pre-trial diversion?

You must apply to and be accepted into a pre-trial diversion program. Pre-trial diversion programs are designed to both help first-time offenders avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction, as well as rehabilitate them so they don’t commit another crime in the future. Generally, pre-trial diversion programs require you to attend some type of treatment or counseling, and remain on probation for a specified period. In exchange for completing the program, your probation won’t be formally entered on your criminal record.

The pros of pre-trial diversion are that after you successfully complete the program, the charges against you are dropped. The con is that in some counties you must enter a guilty plea in order to be eligible. And if you violate the terms of the program, prosecution can resume pursuing the criminal charges against you.

To be eligible for pre-trial diversion, you must meet certain requirements. These generally include:

  • You may not commit another criminal offense during the program
  • You may have no prior arrests
  • You must admit guilt for the offense
  • You must have a job or be enrolled in school
  • You must report to a probation officer at your expense

After successful completion of a pre-trial diversion program, you can have your record expunged in most counties. When you fill out applications or employers perform a background check, you won’t have a criminal history on your record. Our attorneys can help you determine if pre-trial diversion is right for you.

What is deferred adjudication?

Deferred adjudication is a form of plea deal that allows defendants to avoid trial and conviction in exchange for a plea of “guilty” or “no contest.” This means that the courts won’t find you guilty, but will rather suspend judgement if you agree to deferred adjudication. The main benefit of deferred adjudication is avoiding jail time as well as the collateral consequences that can come along with a first-time offense.

To participate in deferred adjudication, you must meet certain requirements, including:

  • You may not commit another criminal offense
  • You must have a job or be enrolled in school
  • You must pay fines and restitutions associated with your offense
  • You must report to a probation officer at your expense
  • You must stay within the country
  • You must submit to random drug testing

If you complete deferred adjudication successfully, you may file for an order of non-disclosure, which will seal your criminal record from private entities. This means you’ll be able to apply for jobs and apartments without worry.

The state of Texas also offers pre-trial and deferred adjudication programs for eligible juvenile offenders.

Can I expunge a DWI through pre-trial diversion?

Yes, in Texas it’s possible to expunge your DWI charge through a diversion program. However, if you violate any terms of the program, you’ll be kicked out of the program and have to go back to court to face the charges against you. But when you do successfully fulfill the terms of the program, the court will dismiss the charges and our attorneys can file an action for expunction of your DWI.

Can you receive deferred adjudication for DWI?

You can as of 2019, but it may not be that good of a deal, in the long run.

Basically, it works like this: first-time offenders are allowed to seek deferred adjudication as long as their BAC is below a 0.15, and the driver doesn’t have a CDL. Provided the driver completes his or her probation, the charge won’t be entered into the record.

However, if a person commits a subsequent offense, then the original DWI will count against him/her when it comes to a conviction. If you are charged with another DWI after getting a deferred adjudication, the court is going to consider your punishment as though you were convicted of DWI the first time.

In short, a repeat offense will be charged like one, and the consequences are going to be severe.

Why we need diversion programs and deferred adjudication

Texas is number seven in the nation when it comes to incarcerated population – 891 out of every 100,000 people are behind bars. Our jails and prisons are getting more crowded every day. The judicial system is starting to recognize that many first-time offenders, especially young people, shouldn’t have to spend time in jail for a minor offense. These types of programs allow the courts to hand down punishments while avoiding the issues that come with incarceration.

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What crimes aren’t eligible for these programs?

Under Texas penal code, these are the only crimes that can’t receive deferred adjudication:

  • Flying while intoxicated
  • Intoxication manslaughter

For other offenses, the decision is made on a case-by-case basis. Judges take into consideration factors like any prior criminal history, the nature of the crime, whether violence was involved and whether anyone suffered any injuries related to the crime.

The main benefit of either a deferred adjudication or pre-trial diversion is avoiding a criminal conviction. However, each option comes with pros and cons. The main goal of our criminal defense attorneys is reducing your charges or having them dropped altogether. We will lay out your options and explain them in detail, allowing you to make the most informed decisions about your future.

Helping you make the right choices when facing criminal charges in Central Texas

At the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, we take criminal charges very seriously. The choices you make can have far-reaching effects on your future, as well as whether or not you’ll emerge with a criminal record. Our attorneys have a thorough knowledge of the law and can provide you with all the information you need to make the right decisions – and fight for the best outcome. Let us help. Contact us today at 254-680-4655 or by filling out our contact form. We have offices in Killeen, Copperas Cove, and Waco, and handle in-custody visits for clients who cannot come to us.