What is a Diversion Program?
A criminal conviction can have far-reaching consequences on your life, including losing job opportunities, your right to vote and own a firearm, and many others. Fortunately, South Carolina offers diversion programs, which are alternatives to traditional prosecution. These programs are typically available for first-time offenders and minor nonviolent crimes. Diversion programs aim to primarily rehabilitate offenders instead of imposing harsh penalties on them to minimize their chances of reoffending.
What Diversion Programs Does South Carolina Offer?
Diversion programs in South Carolina come in various forms, and each is tailored to the specific circumstances of the offender, the age of the offender, and the nature of the crime. Participating in a diversion program will not be considered a plea or an admission of your guilt. Depending on the program, entrance may be voluntary or require a referral from the court.
Your active criminal case will remain pending while you are participating in the program. The charges against you will only be dismissed and expunged (under certain circumstances) after you successfully complete the diversion program. Common examples of diversion programs in SC include the following:
- Pretrial Intervention – Enables a first-time nonviolent offender to examine and reflect on their criminal behavior, give back to the community, and change their lifestyle to avoid getting prosecuted and convicted.
- Drug Court – Promotes sobriety and accountability for offenders charged with nonviolent drug offenses by placing them in a drug treatment program. Participation can be a probation condition or through a court referral.
- Traffic Education Program – This is available to offenders with no more than four penalty points. This program makes South Carolina roadways safer by educating offenders while giving them a chance to get their traffic tickets dismissed.
- Alcohol Education Program – Specifically targets the risks and issues of underage drinking and driving by holding drunk drivers accountable for their poor choices through education and an intensive treatment program while giving them the chance to get their charges dismissed.
- Juvenile Diversion Program – This diversion program is available for juvenile offenders who committed nonviolent or minor offenses. It is specifically targeted to divert juveniles from the adult criminal court process by placing them in relevant services that will help in their rehabilitation. This program provides juvenile offenders the chance to take accountability for their poor choices and secure a dismissal of their charges.
Other diversion programs offered in SC include:
- Juvenile Arbitration Program
- Mental Health Court
- Domestic Violence Intervention Program
- CHANGE Program
- Veterans Court
- New Start Substance Abuse Intervention Program
Reach Out to an Experienced South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Diversion programs in SC can be a viable option to avoid getting convicted of a crime. However, the application and eligibility requirements can be complex. It is also crucial to note that you will face harsher penalties if you violate any of the rules of the diversion program. Horry County we also have three levels of Treatment Court, that if successfully completed can result in the conviction being reopened and dismissed.
To learn if you are eligible for a diversion program and how to navigate the application process, contact the South Carolina criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Brad C. Richardson, LLC. Call our office or contact us online to arrange your free case review with our South Carolina criminal defense attorney.