If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, you are no doubt apprehensive about the charges and penalties you face, and potentially of the long term consequences of having a criminal record. However, depending upon your specific situation, you may qualify for a diversion program, that if completed successfully, will get your charges dismissed.
What exactly are these programs?
Diversion programs are intended to rehabilitate defendants through alternative means, and help them avoid the consequences of a criminal record, which is detrimental to convicted offenders’ futures as productive members of society. Diversion programs are most common for drug or domestic offenses, or for first-time offenders.
These programs typically involve some form of counseling or probation, and require the defendant to demonstrate exemplary conduct throughout the program. Diversion programs also often include restitution to the crime’s victim(s) and community service. These activities are aimed at rehabilitating defendants, proving that they are capable of good behavior, and preventing recidivism, or the repeat commission of crimes in the future.
Denver Youth Diversion Programs
Denver has a number of youth diversion programs available, depending upon the type of offense. These programs are geared towards engaging at-risk youth in alternative activities to reduce repeat offenses. Many youths are referred by law enforcement and courts, but can also be referred by the community or schools.
The Municipal Juvenile Diversion Program is intended for juvenile offenders who have violated city laws such as curfew violations, shoplifting, and trespassing. The goal of this program is identify and address underlying issues that may be causing at-risk youth to commit these offenses, and provide supportive community resources for youths and their family members.
The Municipal Court Diversion Program is overall very successful, reducing the rate of repeat offenses by 50% in youth who complete the program.
PACE (Promoting Academics and Character Education)
The PACE program is a collaborative effort between Denver Public Safety Youth Programs, Denver Public Schools, and the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver. Youths in middle schools and K-8 schools are referred to the PACE program for behaviors such as drug involvement, carrying a weapon, fighting, truancy, habitual classroom disruption, and threats or intimidation to classmates.
The goal of the PACE program is to provide supportive, targeted intervention to promote academic success and eliminate the root cause of problem behaviors. Overall, the PACE Program decreases the rate of repeat offenses by about 50% in youth who have successfully completed the program.
SafeNite Curfew Program
In Denver, the SafeNite curfew program begins April 1st and runs through September 30th. During this time, youths aged 10-17 are under curfew between 11PM and 5AM on weekdays and from 12AM-5AM on weekends. Exceptions are made for youths traveling from work or school activities without a detour or when they are accompanied by parents or guardians.
Any youth found violating this curfew will be cited and held in the Denver Juvenile Services Center. First-time offenders are given the opportunity to participate in the Municipal Diversion Program to get the case dismissed without a court appearance.
Truancy Court Diversion
The Denver Truancy Court Diversion program is aimed to improve school attendance, reduce truancy court appearances, and identify and provide resources for at-risk youth. To be eligible for this program, youths must not have prior court involvement or an open case with Human Services.
This program is customized to the needs of each participant, and may include school attendance and progress reports, counseling, research projects, and community service. If participants successfully complete the program, they will not have to return to court, and will have their truancy case dismissed.
Denver Adult Diversion Programs
Denver also offers adult diversion programs for certain defendants. In these programs, the accused is able to fulfil a certain set of conditions or complete a formal program designed to address underlying issues related to or arising from the alleged crime. If the program is completed successfully, the charges are dismissed or are not filed.
The terms of the agreement are different in each case. The agreement will likely require restitution to victims of the alleged crime, and require defendants to address underlying issues that may have led to the criminal behavior, typically through counseling. These programs also often include community service. Additionally, a diversion program may be filed with the court, and place the defendant under probationary restrictions to prove that the defendant is capable of good behavior.
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, talk to a criminal defense attorney, who can help determine if a diversion program may be an option for your case. If diversion is not an option, your lawyer may still be able to get your charges dismissed, and can develop the best possible defense should your case go to trial, maximizing your chance of a favorable outcome.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.