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:
True diversion programs are exactly that – they divert or redirect individuals who have been arrested to a different, and hopefully, more productive and positive path. Most diversion programs are pre-trial, meaning the defendant is diverted from the tradition criminal justice processing into a program of supervision, treatment and rehabilitation. There are also post-conviction diversion programs which allow a person the opportunity to avoid the typical punishments following a conviction, potentially 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 more than 170 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. Specialty courts oversee specific diversion programs or rehabilitative in their county. 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. Here’s a list of available Tarrant County Diversion Programs :
The Tarrant County First Offender Drug Program (FODP) offers a second chance for low-risk, first-time drug offenders. The goal of the program is to divert first-time drug offenders out of the court system and into a rehabilitative court-supervised program that, if completed, will leave them without a criminal record. FODP is designed to enhance public safety, reduce crime, hold offenders accountable, increase sobriety among drug offenders, reduce costs to our community, and ultimately reduce congestion in the criminal court dockets.
Learn more about FODP.
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. Common offense eligible for for DPP including possession of marijuana and shoplifting. If participants successfully complete the program, their case will be dismissed and the arrest will be eligible for an expunction.
Learn more about DPP.
Tarrant County’s DIRECT Program is a judicially-supervised program designed to treat people accused or convicted of drug-related offenses, rather than imprisoning them. Those who complete DIRECT (Drug Impact Rehabilitation Enhanced Comprehensive Treatment Program) have their cases dismissed or probation shortened. Those who don’t complete the program face prosecution.
Learn more about the Tarrant County DIRECT program.
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 Tarrant County Domestic Violence Diversion Program.
YODA provides counseling and case management to first-time offenders aged 17 and 25 who have been arrested for simple 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 victims who are not family members.
The Tarrant County DWI Court Program focuses on individuals who are charged with DWI-Misdemeanor Repetition 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.
Learn more about Tarrant County DWI Court.
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. The mission of the Mental Health Court Diversion Program is to identify mentally impaired offenders and to expedite them through the criminal justice system.
Learn more about the Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program.
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.
SWIFT, or Supervision With Intensive enForcemenT, uses a progressive sanction model to initiate change in the behavior of probationers. 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.
Learn more about the Tarrant County SWIFT program.
Tarrant County Diversion Programs are a wonderful way to get motivated people who have lost their way, often due to alcohol, drugs or mental health issues, back on the right track. If you think you or a loved may be eligible for one of Tarrant County’s Diversion Programs, contact us today to speak to an experienced lawyer. Our team of attorneys are familiar with each of the program’s requirements and, if eligible, can recommend you for the appropriate program. Don’t delay. The programs have hard deadlines for application – usually 60 or 90 days of your case being filed. You don’t want to miss a chance for a second chance. Call 817-203-2220.