What is diversion in the District of Columbia?
1st and foremost you should always explore diversion options even if you believe you are the most innocent person on the planet. You can control the outcome of the case. You take the control away from the government and if you complete the required course of action your case will usually get dismissed.
Therefore, if you run into a criminal defense attorney who says he never considers diversion for his client – Do not hire him.
In the District of Columbia there are 2 prosecuting entities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for District of Columbia prosecutes most misdemeanors and felonies. The office of attorneys general’s office prosecutes most traffic and misdemeanor cases.
Diversion in the District of Columbia means that the U.S. Attorney’s Office or Office of Attorney General will not prosecute the case if you agree to abide by certain conditions. The case is diverted from prosecution for 4 to 6 months where you the defendant agree to perform various conditions such as community service, undergo drug treatment, or mental health treatment. Some diversion options require you to plead guilty and then after certain conditions are met the prosecutor will allow you to withdraw your guilty plea after you have completed the agreed task.
Diversion options are constantly changing in the District of Columbia. You should seek an experienced lawyer who knows the ins and outs of D.C. Superior Court. It may not be in your best interest to hire a “big time lawyer” who does not regular practice in Superior Court because the diversion options change regularly and notice is not publicly broadcast to the bar association. Furthermore, Prosecutors regularly change the diversion options based on the needs of the community.
Generally, for a defendant to be eligible for diversion options he cannot be convicted of or served probation or parole for firearms offenses, sex offenses (with the exception of solicitation of prostitution) or violent felony offenses within the past ten years. Please be mindful that the U.S. attorneys and Attorney General has complete discretion and may bar an individual from diversion regardless of qualification based on other reasons.
Lastly, diversion may have immigration consequences so you need to seek a qualified criminal attorney who knows immigration policies or at least consult with an immigration attorney if you have any questions.
As always contact a lawyer to help you throughout this process.