The Texas Law Guide
Pretrial Diversion in Texas
I wrote this guide to give you an overview of Texas pretrial diversion,
In this new guide you’ll learn what pretrial diversion is AND how it can affect your criminal case, your future, and your ability to clear your criminal record.
Let’s dive right in:
What is pretrial diversion?
Also referred to as pretrial intervention, pretrial diversion is a legal remedy offered by many courts as an alternative to a guilty plea, possible jail time, and a criminal conviction. Texas lawmakers created the law (Texas Government Code §76.011) to help deserving citizens avoid the potentially damaging and lifelong effects of a criminal record.
In short, pretrial diversion is a policy of leniency that allows first-time offenders to make amends for their actions instead of facing legal prosecution and a criminal record.
How does pretrial diversion work?
When you agree to complete a pretrial diversion program, the District Attorney’s Office prosecuting the case will agree to stop prosecution and file a motion to dismiss the charges once you successfully complete the program. That motion will the be presented to the judge for his or her signature and your case should be dismissed once all of the paperwork is complete.
What are the requirements for pretrial diversion in Texas?
While every case is unique and exceptions may apply, certain criteria are required to receive pretrial diversion. In most cases, the person accused of the charge must meet conditions including:
– Must be first-time offender with no prior conviction or arrests
– Must accept responsibility for the offense
– Meet probation-like conditions set forth by the court
– Maintain employment or be enrolled in school
– Stay out of trouble for a certain period of time
Some pretrial diversion programs may require payment of restitution (money) or community service.
Can I get my case dismissed by completing pretrial diversion?
Yes. In Texas, successful completion of a pretrial diversion (PTD) program usually leads to dismissal of the charges. This means that you avoid having a conviction on your criminal record and you can legally state that you have not been convicted of the crime in question.
Will my criminal record be cleared after completing pretrial diversion?
Most people (lawyers included) believe that a pretrial diversion (PTD) program results in the charge being completely cleared, erased, or expunged from your criminal record. However, this is not the case.
PTD allows the case to be dismissed without prosecution but it does NOT clear the arrest from your record. Although the case has been dismissed, the original charge will appear on criminal background checks and may be used by employers, lenders, and others when making important decisions.
How can I clear my record after finishing PTD?
After successfully completing a pretrial diversion or pretrial intervention, you should be eligible for criminal record expunction. The process, more commonly known as expungement, involves filing a civil lawsuit to clear your criminal charges. If the judge grants your request for expunction, ALL records of the arrest will be completely destroyed.
By completing this process, you can legally answer “No.” to the following questions:
– Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
– Have you ever been accused of a crime?
What is the difference between pretrial diversion and deferred adjudication?
Most people use these terms interchangeably, but they are actually quite different. Although both PTD and deferred adjudication allow for possible dismissal of the case, pretrial diversion typically ends with your case being eligible for full criminal record expunction (complete destruction of the records).
On the other hand, deferred adjudication usually leads to the case being eligible for sealing through an order of nondisclosure rather than complete destruction. When your record is sealed, it can still be discovered by certain state and federal agencies although it will be invisible to private employers, lenders, and ordinary citizens.
So that’s it for my Texas Pretrial Diversion Guide.
Now I’d like to hear from you.
What did you find helpful from this post?
Do you have questions about clearing a pretrial diversion case from your record?
Maybe you need help determining if your record can be expunged.
Either way, get in touch and let me know how I can help.
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