Intervention and diversion programs allow prosecutors to divert cases from the regular court and trial process and substitute classes, counseling, community services, or a combination thereof. After successful program completion, the charges are dismissed and defendants avoid acquiring a criminal record. Recidivism (commission of crimes after prison release) is a concern today and these programs are a solution to overcrowded jails and ineffective consequences for people who commit misdemeanors or minor crimes. Various cities in Louisiana have their own diversion programs. The eligibility requirements and program components are different for each.
On the heels of a nasty public corruption scandal in the Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office and with the swearing in last year of a new DA came the introduction of the 15th JDC-OWI Pre-trial Intervention Program – not to be confused with the old Pre-trial Diversion (see nasty scandal). If you are charged with first offense OWI, you might be eligible to participate in PTI. While this might seem like a no-brainer, there are many things to consider before embarking on the PTI journey:
How long will it take me to complete?
How much does it cost?
What do I have to do?
Can I drive?
Do I have to have an interlock device on my car?
Can I get this matter removed from my record?
Which record – driving, criminal, both?
Is the regular court process easer?
What’s the difference between PTI and the regular process?
Will any of this affect my job/school/professional license?
Wait a minute, do I have a defense? Maybe I’m not guilty?
Confused yet? Head spinning, stomach in knots?
When you sign up for a diversion program without a lawyer on your side you are allowing the prosecutor to dictate the terms of your immediate situation and future. The DA’s office collects a large fee and puts a mark on your driving record. They monitor you for some time period and if you slip up they drag you back to court and ask the Judge to convict you and send you to jail. And they do not have to spend the time and effort required to prosecute your case further.
In some cases these programs may be the best option. However, it is very important to speak with us before deciding what to do. Sometimes a case that seems hopeless can be won by a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer.