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What is a diversionary program

Diversionary programs are alternatives to prosecution.  They exist as a statutory privilege as a second chance offered by the state legislature.  A diversionary program offers the chance at a dismissal for those who successfully complete the requirements and to avoid having the charge on their record.

If you are interested in avoiding prosecution by participating in a
 diversionary program you first need to determine whether any of these programs are available to you.  There are many programs across South Carolina, but they differ according to which county you are in. The four programs I’ve addressed below are fairly standard throughout the state.

Pretrial Intervention

Pretrial Intervention, or PTI, is available for individuals age 17 and older.  The program is operated by the Solicitor of the Judicial Circuit, and acceptance into the program is solely at the discretion of the Solicitor.  The nature of the offense, the recommendation of the arresting officer and any victim, and prior criminal history are all considered in making this decision to accept someone into PTI.  A chance at PTI is only available once.
This program accommodates both General Sessions and Misdemeanor or Magistrate cases.  Over the course of the program, the participant is required to repay the victim of the crime through restitution.  There is generally also an element of community service.  PTI participants must agree to drug treatment or counseling sessions and must submit to random drug testing.  There are certain fees associated with PTI.  These fees include an application and participation fee as well as any counseling costs which are separate.  Even with the fees and costs, PTI can be much cheaper than court fines, costs and assessments that may be imposed.  Upon successful completion, the charge is dismissed and can be expunged from your record.

Alcohol Education Program

The Alcohol Education Program, or AEP, is available to individuals ages 17-20 at the time of the offense and is only for minor alcohol and alcohol related charges including Minor in Possession of Beer or Wine, Open Container, and Possession of a Fake ID.  Applicants must have no prior criminal convictions, be either employed, disabled, or in school, and pose no detectable threat to society.  While in AEP participants will be required to participate in a series of requirements including substance abuse education or counseling sessions, random drug screens, and community service.  In return for completing the program requirements successfully, participants are eligible to have their charge dismissed and expunged.

Traffic Education Program

The Traffic Education Program, or TEP, is a very quick and easy process.  This program can be completed in 1 day with 4 hours of defensive driving and 4 hours of community service.  This program is a great opportunity to maintain a good driving record.  Eligible participants must have 4 or less points currently on their driving record.

Drug Court

Drug Court is a court supervised, intensive, outpatient drug treatment program.  It is highly structured and consists of at least 12 months of treatment.  It is not available in every county.  If you have a history of drug use and convictions for drug crimes or drug related crimes, you may be eligible to apply to the program.  There are certain charges and circumstances that Drug Court will not allow, including those with Criminal Domestic Violence charges, violent offenses,  and circumstances indicating a history of drug dealing.  The judge has the final authority on all applicants admitted to the program.  In some jurisdictions, the client will “plead guilty” and go to drug court whereby other are diverted prior to a plea.  At any rate, successful participants are eligible to have their charges expunged if the treatment team and the Court agree that significant progress has been made.  Drug Court is much more intense than the other programs described above.
There is no requirement that you must hire a criminal defense attorney before you are eligible to apply.  However, your chances of being allowed to participate increase tremendously.  Ask your attorney about the available diversionary programs in your area.
If you don’t have an attorney yet, give us a call and we might be able to help.

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