State Court Criminal Diversion Programs

One of the most important topics and most common questions I receive concern alternatives to prison, also known as Diversion Programs. There are a number of diversion programs in state criminal courts across Oklahoma. Some of these programs are under the District Attorney’s power of deferred prosecution. In deferred prosecution, the District Attorney dismisses your criminal case upon your acceptance into an applicable diversion program. Generally, you will sign a contract agreeing to participate in the diversion program and advising you, if you are unsuccessful in the diversion program, including being charged with a new crime, your criminal case with be refiled and you will be dismissed from the diversion program. Some Veteran’s diversion programs fall under deferred prosecution, including Oklahoma County. The majority of diversion programs in Oklahoma are based on entering a plea to your criminal charges prior to being admitted or accepted into the specific diversion program. When a criminal defendant enters the majority of diversion programs a contract is signed that includes the benefit of participation in the program, including: your charges being dismissed upon successful completion, not serving jail or prison time, and receiving/participating in treatment options. In the unfortunate event a criminal defendant fails one of these diversion programs, he or she will be sentenced based on the contracted signed prior to entering the program and may be sent to jail or even prison. Diversion programs are run by individual counties, which means each of the 77 counties in Oklahoma have their own procedures for: applying, admission, and completion of diversion programs. Your criminal defense attorney can assist you in applying and entering into Oklahoma Diversion Programs in your county. Although, failure in either type of diversion program described above may result in being incarcerated, the majority of participants in these programs would being facing jury trial or prison, if they did not agree to participate in these programs. Successful completion in almost any diversion program results in the case being dismissed. Please see a detailed explanation of the most common diversion programs in Oklahoma below:

Veterans Diversion Program

Veteran diversion programs, including the Oklahoma County Veteran’s Program is only available to service members who currently or previously served in the United States military. This diversion program is intended to prevent Veterans from serving jail or prison time, while receiving treatment and regiment. Veteran diversion programs are one of the few programs that accept violence offenders. The service record of every potential participant must be collected and reviewed prior to admission into any veteran diversion programs. This is usually accomplished by the program submitting a DD-214 request to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Upon service verification, the participant will attend formation for the veteran program; participate in treatment; and participate in job counseling. All veteran diversion programs aim to reestablish order, mental health, address substance abuse issues, and assist veterans return to productive lives. You should discuss this diversion option with your criminal defense attorney, if you have served in the United States military, including the National Guard and you are facing criminal charges in Oklahoma.

DUI/Drug Court

Drug Courts and DUI Courts are the most common diversion programs in Oklahoma. The authority for Drug Court and DUI Court is found at OKLA. STAT. tit. 22 § 471 et seq. These programs are comprehensive treatment programs intended to divert individuals away from prison or jail, while helping them to obtain abstinence from alcohol or drugs and treatment to address the issues they are facing. Participation in these programs is voluntary and includes drug tests, court appearances, treatment, counseling, and job requirements. At least 73 of the 77 counties in Oklahoma offer drug court diversion programs. The benefits of participating in diversion is obvious, eventual dismissal of your case; however, the consequences are equally apparent. Failure of DUI/Drug Court will result in incarceration. It is important to ensure you understand the terms of your DUI Court or Drug Court contract, because it will lay out the sentence you will receive, if you do not successfully complete the program. Although the goal of these diversion programs is abstinence from drug/alcohol use, program staff and judges understand abstinence is a process and these diversion programs allow for mistakes, with consequences, prior to being kicked out of the program and being sent to jail. You should discuss this diversion option with your criminal defense attorney, if you are facing a DUI or Drug charge in Oklahoma.

Mental Health Court

Mental health plays a role in the lives of a large percentage of Oklahomans. It is estimated that fifty-five percent (55%) of all Oklahoma offenders have a history or currently suffer symptoms of mental health, which does not include the thousands of offenders without documented mental health issues. Oklahoma criminal courts have slowly attempted to respond to this recently identified trend by forming Mental Health Courts. Treatment for mental health works. At least fourteen counties, out of the seventy-seven counties, in Oklahoma operate Mental Health Courts. Mental Health Courts are a diversion program based on the Drug Court diversion program model: treatment, counseling, employment or seeking disability resources, and court appearances. Successful completion of Mental Health Court results in your case being dismissed; however, failure will result in jail or prison time. You should discuss this diversion option with your criminal defense attorney, if you or your loved one facing criminal charges suffers from a mental health diagnosis or mental health issue in Oklahoma.

Re-Merge

Remerge is a female diversion program for mothers and pregnant women facing prison in Oklahoma. This diversion program works with the Department of Corrections & Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to find treatment and diversion options for women facing prison. Remerge, similar to Drug Court, uses treatment to address mental health, behavior health, substance abuse, trauma, and poverty. Upon successful completion of Remerge the participant’s felony is dismissed, they are employed, they have housing, and a treatment plan to go forward. Remerge’s comprehensive plan boasts a five percent (5%) recidivism rate, which means only five-percent of graduates re-offend. You should discuss this diversion option with your criminal defense attorney, if you or your loved one potentially qualify for ReMerge in Oklahoma.

Delayed Sentencing for Young Adults

The Delayed Sentencing Program for Young Adults or Regimented Inmate Discipline Program “RID” is a boot camp style program for criminal defendants between the age of eighteen (18) and twenty-one (21). Individuals must enter a plea before their twenty-second (22nd) birthday to participate in the program and cannot be charged with any of the specific serious violent felonies listed in OKLA. STAT. tit. 22 § 996.1. RID has an in-custody option and an out-of-custody option. After a criminal defendant enters a plea; they will participate in the regimented program for a period between six months and a year. Upon, completion of the program a report is generated that details how the defendant performed. Poor performance or failure of RID can result in a felony conviction or even prison time, while successful completion can result in probation, including a deferred sentence. The defendant’s case will be dismissed upon successful completion of a deferred sentence. You should discuss this diversion option with your criminal defense attorney, if you or your loved one are facing criminal charges in Oklahoma and you are under the age of twenty-two.

Community Sentencing

Oklahoma Community Sentencing Act, OKLA. STAT. tit. 22 §988.1 et seq. is an alternative to prison for criminal defendants with a prior felony conviction or multiple felony convictions, even some violent crime convictions. The first step in determining program eligibility is an assessment, the Level of Services Inventory (“LSI”) assessment, which gives the defendant’s criminal defense attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge insight or a forecast of the likelihood of success for the individual. Those that do not fall within the qualifying score +19, may be admitted with approval of the applicable District Attorney’s office. Although, successful completion of Community Sentencing will not result in dismissal of charges; it will result in not going to prison. You should discuss this prison diversion option with your criminal defense attorney, if you or your loved one has one or more felony convictions and is facing new felony charges in Oklahoma.

Alternative Programs for Youth

Juvenile Justice affords greater opportunity to avoid criminal charges, conviction, and incarceration that any other group of criminal defendants in Oklahoma. The First-Time Offender Program exists to help youth avoid criminal charges. This program, like most, is run by individual counties. The Skills Education Program “SEP” exists in Oklahoma County. The SEP is a sixteen-hour course, in which an individual youth and his or her parent work to develop proper responses to anger and conflict. Eligibility for this program requires one of the following: 1) behavior exhibited at school or home that concerns parents or teachers; or 2) a youth that is arrested for a first-time criminal offense. After a criminal allegation is made against a juvenile, but before charges are filed, a youth may enter into other diversion programs by agreement with the District Attorney’s Office through coordinating with the juvenile intake officer in the Intake and Diversion Services Unit or the Community Intervention Center “CIC”. All three of these options connect youths and their family with services to find better responses to controversy. You should discuss these youth diversion options with your criminal defense attorney, if you or your loved one has youthful criminal allegations or charges in Oklahoma.

Conclusion

When facing criminal charges in Oklahoma; threating your future, finances, and freedom, contact CANNON & ASSOCIATES in Oklahoma City for your defense. John will do everything possible to defend your freedom and your future. You have the right to the presumption of innocence and representation by the best criminal defense attorney you can find. John will help you throughout the process and help you reach the best possible outcome in your case, including Diversion Programs. John Cannon is a Fierce Advocate for every client and will use his experience and respected reputation to do everything possible to reach the best possible outcome in your criminal case. John has been recognized as a Top 40 under 40 in Criminal Defense by the National Trial Lawyers Association. Additionally, he has an outstanding record of reaching the best possible outcome for hundreds of clients accused of the wide variety of criminal charges, as evidenced by receiving the highest possible AVVO rating – 10 (superb). Contact CANNON & ASSOCIATES today.

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