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What Is a Pretrial Diversion Program?


Criminal charges can drastically affect your present life, reputation and future. This is the case even if the charges never result in a conviction.

To help both criminal offenders and the justice system, The United States Department of Justice developed the pretrial diversion program. This type of program is an alternative to criminal prosecution and available to only certain offenders.

The Major Objectives of Pretrial Diversion

Unlike many other diversion programs, pretrial diversion seeks to divert certain offenders away from the criminal justice system before the state can lobby charges against them. What this means for you is that, if you qualify, you would enroll in the program during the pre-charge stage. If you successfully complete the program, your records will never contain any indication of the offense. If you enter the program after receiving charges but then successfully complete it, the state will dismiss the charges. This program helps both offenders and the justice system in that it does the following:

  • Deters future similar behavior among certain offenders
  • Provides communities and victims of crime a way to achieve restitution
  • Saves judicial resources for concentration on major crimes

If you qualify for the program, you will undergo a period of supervision and probation that will not exceed 18 months. If you fail to successfully complete the program, you will have to return to court for prosecution.

Eligibility Criteria for Pretrial Diversion

Not everyone qualifies for pretrial diversion programs. The Department of Justice explains who is not eligible for such programs. You may be ineligible for pretrial diversion if you have two or more prior felony convictions on your record; if the accusation against you involves matters of foreign affairs or national security; if you are a former or current public official whose accusations arise out of an alleged violation of trust; and/or if the courts divert your case to the State for prosecution.