The criminal justice system, generally, has three ways to deal with crime: punish the criminal, deter future crimes, and rehabilitate the individual who committed the crime. Diversion programs focus on rehabilitating individuals. Tarrant County stands out in Texas for the number of diversion programs that are available to certain categories of offenders.
Before we get into what diversion programs are and which diversion programs are available in Tarrant County, it is important to point out two things: First, diversion programs are meant for individuals who are guilty of the offense for which they are charged. In other words, if you believe you are not guilty of an offense, your attorney will advise you on how to best contest your guilt and not advise you to apply for diversion. Second, diversion programs are difficult to enter and are only available to individuals who are motivated to change.
True diversion programs divert individuals who are facing the consequences of an arrest. There are also post-conviction diversion programs which allow a person the opportunity to avoid the typical punishments following a conviction, potentially including avoiding a prison sentence. However, the purpose of diversion programs is not only to avoid convictions or punishment. Diversion programs are meant to give the accused an opportunity for rehabilitation, which will be rewarded.
Diversion programs are only meant for individuals who are guilty of the offense for which they are charged. Admission into a diversion program is not something that can be guaranteed nor are they meant for individuals who believe they are entitled to be in the program. Applicants must, instead, demonstrate a commitment to changing their lives and be accepted after a rigorous application process.
Generally, diversion programs, which are also referred to as specialty court programs, have both a carrot and a stick. For pre-plea diversion programs, the carrot might be offering the person a dismissal and shot at an expunction, while the stick is the person getting kicked out of the program with prejudice. For post-plea programs (where the person is found guilty, typically in the case of repeat offenders) the benefit is they are given an opportunity to stay out of prison as long as they abide by the stringent requirements of the specialty court program.
There are over 140 specialty court programs in Texas. There are adult drug courts, juvenile drug courts, DWI courts, mental health courts and veteran’s courts, just to name a few. Each specialty court is designed to provide an opportunity for a group of individuals who share a common underlying problem, which has led to their criminal behavior. This includes things like PTSD, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and diagnosed mental health conditions. Each specialty court is designed to first deal with the underlying issue. For example, a specialty court program for drug offenders might include providing clean random drug tests for a period of time, going through a drug treatment program, and meeting with case managers. A specialty court for repeat DWI offenders might require monitors to ensure the person is not drinking, sobriety for an extended period of time, full-time employment, restitution, and attending programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Tarrant County’s Diversion Programs require you to have an attorney, who will assist you with the application process and guide you through the program. Our firm has helped a great number of individuals enter diversion programs. As former Tarrant County prosecutors, we are uniquely positioned to advise you about how to maximize your chances of getting into a Tarrant County Diversion Program.
Tarrant County has a number of diversion or specialty court programs. You can learn more about Tarrant County Diversion Programs below:
The First Offender Drug Program, or FODP, is a limited supervision program for first-time drug offenders who would be considered a “self-corrector.” One of the greatest benefits of the First Offender Drug Program is that successful completion of the program will make the arrest record eligible for an expunction. Our attorneys have successfully guided individuals through FODP and are available to assist you if you qualify for this program.
In order to be considered for the First Offender Drug Program, a defendant must be approved by the Criminal District Attorney’s Office. Participants who are accepted into the program will receive minimum supervision.
To be eligible for FODP, the applicant cannot have been convicted, have current or past community supervision or deferred adjudication, nor currently have any pending offenses other than Class C misdemeanors.
Eligible offenses for admission include:
The program cost includes the costs of testing and classes for the program. The felony program is 180 days for $550. The misdemeanor program is 90 days for $350. Each program consists of a short-term education class, urinalysis testing, and for the felony programs, two hair tests during the duration of the program.
Conditions of the First Offender Drug Program
If the defendant violates any term or condition of the program, a termination letter is completed by the Case Manager and signed by the presiding judge. Termination from the program will result in a sentencing hearing with punishment set by the court within the full range of punishment.
If the defendant successfully completes the program, on the dismissal court date, the Assistant Criminal District Attorney will present to the Judge a Motion to Dismiss the case.
If you were charged with a drug offense, consider the Tarrant County First Offender Drug Program and call our Fort Worth Criminal Lawyers at 817-203-2220.
Are you under age 24? Is this your first – and hopefully last – arrest? Are you interested in avoiding a conviction and removing the arrest from your record? If so, the Tarrant County Deferred Prosecution Program could be the opportunity you are looking for.
The Deferred Prosecution Program, or DPP, is a limited supervision program designed to give a young person in trouble for the first time the chance to rehabilitate himself or herself without the stigma of a criminal conviction.
As former Tarrant County prosecutors, we’ve been on the other side of the DPP process and vetted and interviewed candidates who applied to the program. Now as defense attorneys, we are extremely successful in getting our clients into DPP. However, the most important factor in the admission process is you.
The DPP process begins by hiring an attorney who will guide you through the application process. Common offenses that are eligible for the DPP program are possession of marijuana and shoplifting charges.
The Deferred Prosecution Program was created by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office to give qualifying and deserving youthful first-time offenders a chance at rehabilitation and having their case dismissed.
Applicants must hire an attorney and apply for the program within 60 days of their case being filed. There are no exceptions.
The DPP application is obtained by the attorney. The applicant must completely fill out the application, provide two letters of recommendation, provide a personal statement, transcripts, and a negative drug test administered by the Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD) of Tarrant County.
Drug testing will be performed by CSCD at the following locations (first come, first served)
The applicant must attend an orientation before being accepted into DPP. The applicant must be accompanied by a parent or an adult accountability partner. The remainder of the program fee must be paid in full at the conclusion of the orientation. The waivers completed and signed by applicant and defense attorney must be presented at the beginning of the orientation.
The term of supervision is four months for misdemeanor offenses and eight months for felony offenses. If restitution is owed, the term of supervision can be extended to eight months to allow full payment.
Upon successful completion of the program, the offender is entitled to an immediate expunction.
You must have an attorney to get into the Tarrant County Deferred Prosecution Program. All of the senior attorneys at our firm are former Tarrant County Assistant District Attorneys. As former prosecutors, we know exactly what it takes to get through the application and interview process. If you want to find out how you can maximize your chances of getting into the program, call Varghese Summersett PLLC at (817) 203-2220. If you have questions for the program administrators to check on the status of your application or to see if your monthly report has made it to the office, call the Deferred Prosecution Program at (817) 884-1633.
Have you been arrested and charged with a drug offense in Tarrant County, but are ready to live drug-free? The Tarrant County DIRECT program can help you obtain and maintain sobriety while favorably resolving your criminal case and helping keep your record clean.
DIRECT stands for Drug Impact Rehabilitation Enhanced Comprehensive Treatment. It is a drug court program for non-violent offenders. A person who is accepted into the DIRECT Drug Court Program will go through an intensive probation, but successfully completing DIRECT could result in the person avoid prison time, and even receiving a shortened probation sentence.
DIRECT in Tarrant County focuses on high-risk high-needs individuals.
DIRECT Court generally does not accept criminal charges involving weapons and/or death or applicants with a history of assaultive offenses. Eligible offenses for admission may include:
The applicant will be screened by DIRECT staff to determine if pre-trial diversion or post-plea program is the best option.
You must provide clean urinalysis upon admission.
Defendant pleads guilty to deferred adjudication or straight probation for a minimum of two years.
The Domestic Violence Diversion Program targets domestic violence or violence between intimate partners. Not all family violence offenses are eligible for this program as it is meant for individuals who were in a dating relationship or marriage.
Learn more about the Domestic Violence Diversion Program.
YODA is an alternative to standard pre-trial diversion programs for family assaults presented in County Criminal Court Number Five. This program provides counseling and case management to first-time offenders aged 17 and 25 who have been arrested for assault against a non-intimate family member (defined as blood relative, related by marriage or intimate relationship with another family member).
Learn more about Tarrant County YODA.
OBI WAN is an extension of the YODA program for first-time defendants between the ages of 17 and 25 with simple assault cases involving persons who are not family members defined as blood relative, related by marriage or intimate relationship with another family member (i.e. roommates).
FAIP is the Felony Alcohol Intervention Program in Tarrant County. If you have been arrested for repeated intoxication-related offenses and are facing a felony DWI case in Tarrant County, you may qualify for the Felony Alcohol Intervention Program. The program can also help you recover from a life of addiction and avoid penitentiary time for a DWI felony repetition.
FAIP is a specialty program used to capitalize on the trauma and consequences of an arrest by early intervention in an alcoholics course of abuse. It is a post-adjudication program for the high-risk DWI offender. Generally, a person is placed on probation for four years, with time in jail as a condition of probation. An individual who is in FAIP will be revoked to a seven-year sentence if they violate the conditions of FAIP probation.
We have had clients successfully enter Tarrant County FAIP with exceptional results. To find out how we can help you, contact at (817) 203-2220
The Tarrant County DWI Court Program focuses on individuals who are charged with DWI-Misdemeanor Repetition charges with the goal of preventing high-risk high-needs individuals from reoffending. This is a post-plea program that suspends some fees and time in jail as a condition of probation.
Judge Deborah Nekhom, the presiding judge over County Criminal Court Number Four in Tarrant County, has successfully established a DWI Court in Tarrant County.
A DWI Court is designed to prevent high-risk high-needs individuals from reoffending. A misdemeanor DWI Court focuses on identifying and treating individuals that might otherwise continue to drink and drive, putting themselves and others at risk and thereby risking felony DWI allegations (a third DWI in Texas is a felony). DWI Courts ultimately save taxpayer dollars by holding DWI offenders accountable by treating the underlying costs of repeat drunk driving offenses. Based on a study conducted on three similar DWI courts in Georgia, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that recidivism rates dropped from 35% to 15%. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, An Evaluation of the Three Georgia DUI Courts, March 2011 (DOT HS 811 450).
The goal of a misdemeanor DWI Court is to rehabilitate high-risk high-needs individuals by setting out stringent conditions they must follow that is more intensive than a typical probation. Additionally, participants in DWI programs receive individualized attention and immediate sanctions for any violations.
Judge Nekhom developed the Tarrant County DWI Court after researching both the supporting legislation and other counties in Texas that successfully implemented the program. The DWI Court is not a diversion program, in the sense that it does not allow a person to avoid a conviction. Instead, it is a post-plea program that offers many advantages over a typical DWI-Misdemeanor Repetition probation.For example, these advantages include:
These advantages include:
• Suspension of DWI fees of up to $4,000;• Suspension as days in jail as a condition of probation; and• Financial incentives in obtaining an occupational license.
The Tarrant County DWI Court fulfills the conditions laid out in Government Code 123.001, including:
• A non-adversarial approach to promote public safety;• Early identification and prompt placement of eligible participants into the program;• Access to a continuum of alcohol-treatment and rehabilitative services;• Monitoring abstinence through weekly alcohol testing.
Until January 1, 2017, Government Code 123.001 allows individuals who successfully complete programs such as these to obtain nondisclosures sealing the offense from their criminal records. This is not possible with any other disposition after a plea of guilty on a DWI in Texas. Although the DWI Court Program in Tarrant County is designed to take one year, it is anticipated that dedicated participants may have an opportunity to accelerate their graduation date.
The Tarrant County DWI Court Program will be divided into four phases. The first phase will be the most intensive in regards to the classes and conditions a participant must complete. Participants will be required to attend AA, have a sponsor, regularly report to court and the Community Supervision and Corrections Department, and provide clean urine and drug tests to prove their sobriety. Participants will also interact with FAIP participants, who are facing felony DWI allegations to further remind the DWI Court Program Participants about the dangers of reoffending. The Court will have the ability to impose sanctions on participants, including jail time. The program is also designed to provide sanctions quickly to punish infractions
Prior 3(g) offenses and sex offenses make a person ineligible for entry into the DWI Court Program.
If you or a loved one are facing a second DWI charge in Tarrant County and are seeking representation, call us at (817) 203-2220 to discuss your case and to find out if you would be a good candidate for the Tarrant County DWI Diversion Court Program.
Do you or a loved one struggle with a mental illness? Has your struggle led you to commit criminal offenses? The Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program can help treat your mental disability and keep your record clean. This pre-trial diversion program is available to individuals charged with offenses in Tarrant County
The mission of the Mental Health Court Diversion Program is to identify mentally impaired offenders and to expedite them through the criminal justice system.
Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program (MHD) is a pre-trial, post-booking diversion program for mentally impaired offenders. The program offers offenders a treatment option that is judicially supervised. It is designed to divert mentally impaired offenders out of the traditional criminal justice process.
Progressive Sanctions (community service, jail time, revocation for not showing up or completing classes)/Therapeutic Intervention (rehab for drug abuse)
LENGTH: 12-24 months depending upon the actions of the defendant
If you are looking for attorneys with experience successfully admitting individuals into the Mental Health Diversion Program, contact us at (817) 203-2220.
The Veteran’s Court Diversion Program is a diversion program for Justice Involved Veterans who are currently facing prosecution for one or more criminal cases. The program offers offenders a treatment option that is judicially supervised for veterans or current members of the United States Armed Forces, including members of the Reserves, National Guard, or State Guard.
Learn more about Tarrant County Veteran’s Court.
Have you struggled with addiction, drug dependency, or mental illness while struggling through a life of prostitution? The Tarrant County Reaching Independence through Self Empowerment, otherwise known as RISE, could be your chance to start over and become self-sufficient.
The mission of the RISE Program is to identify vulnerable women with extensive histories of prostitution or prostitution-related offenses, expedite them through the criminal justice system and help them achieve abstinence from all mood altering substances, mental stability, permanent housing and educational/work opportunities that provide them with the legal means to maintain a healthy, productive lifestyle. With the consent of an individual’s attorney, the person is contacted by a member of the RISE staff then evaluated through use of validated assessment instruments and a clinical interview and selected if found to be likely to achieve lifestyle change through participation in the program.
“Giving a woman who has been living on the streets some options is much better than throwing her in jail.” – Joan Rycraft, retired University of Texas Arlington Social Worker.
PURPOSE: Reaching Independence through Self Empowerment (RISE) seeks to intervene in the lives of women who have a long history of addiction and mental illness whose common thread is a record filled with arrests for prostitution.
ELIGIBLE: Women charged with felony or misdemeanor level offenses with an expressed desire to change from a life of prostitution and enter upon a path of treatment, stabilization, and rehabilitation.
INELIGIBLE: Screening process will weed out applicants with past violent behavior and low desire for cognitive change.
BENEFITS: The RISE program provides housing, education, job training, and employment and addresses underlying causing drug, mental health and economic issues with long-term therapy and supervision by social workers, attorneys, and probation officers.
If you believe you might be a candidate for the RISE Diversion Program, contact our attorneys today at (817) 203-2220 or online.
Presiding Judge: Brent Carr, County Criminal Court Number Nine
The Tarrant County SWIFT program is a post-plea intensive probation program that gives high-risk, high-need offenders an opportunity to change — and immediate sanctions for violations. The program is overseen by state District Judge Mollee Westfall and is aimed at motivating noncompliant probationers to follow the rules.
SWIFT, or Supervision With Intensive enForcemenT, uses a progressive sanction model to initiate change in the behavior of probationers. Typically, a probationer outside of the SWIFT program may have a number of minor violations before being revoked. SWIFT is different because each minor violation is addressed immediately. For instance, a SWIFT probationer may spend a weekend in jail for their first dirty UA. A second violation for the same thing may result in a week in jail. These sanctions are generally imposed the day after the violation is reported, instead of weeks or months later.
Judge Westfall also requires honesty from SWIFT probationers. It is not uncommon to see a SWIFT probationer at the bench being reminded that a sanction for lying about an offense will result in a greater sanction than the one imposed for a truthful admission. Many SWIFT probationers have reported that they stopped violating their probation conditions because they knew they would get caught.
Probationers are also aware that violating probation by committing a new offense will almost certain result in a probation revocation and prison sentence. The goal of SWIFT is to prevent future offenses by implementing quick and meaningful sanctions for even minor violations.
National studies of programs almost identical to SWIFT have shown probationers in this type of program are half as likely to be revoked altogether and half as likely to commit new offenses. An example of a Tarrant County SWIFT success story is featured here.