Avoiding Imprisonment in a Criminal Case: Diversion Programs and Other Options

If you are facing criminal charges in Rochester, New York, it is extremely important to do everything you can to avoid a conviction and a criminal record, particularly when the offense you have been charged with can involve jail time or a term of imprisonment. There are a variety of misdemeanor offenses in New York, along with all felony offenses, that can result in jail time or a prison sentence, and it can be extremely difficult to appeal a sentence if you do not beat the charges. 
For many first-time offenders and juveniles charged with criminal offenses, options may be available to help you avoid jail time or a term of imprisonment and, in some cases, to avoid having a criminal record. Generally speaking, these options are often known as pretrial diversion programs, and your Rochester criminal defense attorney can begin taking steps to determine your eligibility for such programs. In the meantime, we want to provide you with more information about diversion programs and other options for avoiding imprisonment in a criminal case.

Reduction in Charges with a Lawyer’s Help

When you work with an experienced Rochester criminal defense lawyer at our firm, our primary aim is to help you beat the charges you are facing. In some situations, however, the particular facts of the case can make it very unlikely that you will be able to successfully beat the charges. Yet even in such cases, it remains critical to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Even if beating your charges does not appear likely, one of our criminal defense attorneys can work to have the charges against you reduced for lesser criminal penalties. 

For example, if you are facing a Class A misdemeanor, we may be able to have your charges reduced to a Class B misdemeanor. Or if you are facing felony charges, it may be possible to have your charges reduced to a misdemeanor in some cases, or to have the prosecution seek the lowest possible penalty for the felony class.

Judicial Diversion Program for Certain Felony Offenders

Under New York law CPL Art. 216, certain felony defendants can be eligible for diversion programs. Pretrial diversion, as the name suggests, occurs prior to a defendant’s criminal trial and functions as an alternative to the criminal trial process. In order to be eligible for pretrial diversion, a defendant typically must admit guilt, and then the defendant will enter into a program that will allow them to serve out an alternative “sentence” of sorts while avoiding any type of jail time.

In New York, pretrial diversion options can vary depending upon the type of criminal charges the defendant faced. For example, a person charged with a drug crime or a felony DWI might be ordered to undergo a substance abuse evaluation, to enter into a rehabilitation program, to seek counseling, and/or to live in a sober residence. These programs typically last for anywhere from one to two years. During the diversion program, the defendant must meet all requirements set by the court, including meeting with a probation officer, continuing to work, and fulfilling all of the terms of diversion. At the end of the diversion program, if the defendant has fulfilled all of the court’s requirements, that defendant will not have a criminal conviction on his or her record and will not face any additional criminal penalties for the offense.

In order to be eligible for felony pretrial diversion, the following must be true of the defendant:

  • Charged with a Class B, C, D, or E felony offense;
  • Felony charges are for a nonviolent offense;
  • Defendant has not been convicted of a Class A felony or a violent felony in the last 10 years;
  • Defendant is not facing sex crimes charges; and
  • Defendant has not been adjudicated as a violent felony offender.

Juvenile Diversion

In addition to diversion options for nonviolent felony offenders, juvenile offenders may have additional diversion options. In New York State, the Adolescent Diversion Program (ADP) offers options for certain 16-year-old and 17-year-old defendants. It is important to speak with a criminal defense lawyer about specific diversion options for juvenile offenders in Monroe County.

Seek Advice from a Rochester Criminal Defense Attorney

Are you facing criminal charges in the Rochester area? One of our aggressive Rochester criminal defense attorneys can begin working on your case today. We will work tirelessly to build the strongest defense strategy that is tailored to the facts of your case. If having the charges dropped or beating the charges ultimately does not seem likely, we will use our experience handling criminal defense matters to seek a reduction of charges or entrance into a diversion program. With an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rochester on your side, you can have options that might not otherwise be available. Contact King Law to learn more about the services we provide to clients facing criminal charges in upstate New York.


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