Pre-trial intervention programs in Texas are authorized by Section 76.011 of the Texas Government Code. Pre-trial diversion is an agreement between a person accused of committing a crime in Texas and the State of Texas.
Under the terms of the agreement, if the person complies with the conditions set out in the agreement, the State will dismiss the criminal charges. The agreement is very similar to probation, but not as rigorous. By statute, the maximum term for a pre-trial diversion is 2 years. Each county in Texas has great flexibility in setting up a pre-trial intervention program in that county.
As a general rule, pre-trial diversion is available to first time offenders who have been charged with a non-violent crime. When available, pre-trial diversion is a great way to resolve a criminal matter.
Well over 90 percent of criminal cases are resolved by way of plea negotiations with the State or the Federal Government. I believe the best outcomes are achieved when I can show that my client is different from the “average” person charged with a drug-crime or money laundering. It is important to understand that the various prosecutors I work with on a daily basis see hundreds of cases a year and thousands of cases during their careers as prosecutors.
If I can show that my client is different – in a positive way – I can often negotiate a better resolution for my client.
Case in point. I recently represented a young man from California. He was stopped in Potter County while on a cross-country trip. While searching his vehicle, law enforcement officers found a small amount of marijuana and some edibles believed to contain an illegal substance. My client was subsequently charged with possession of a controlled substance. The lab report showed that the edibles contained Tetrahydrocannabinol (Hashish). Because the edibles weighed over 400 grams, my client was facing 5 to 99 years, or life in prison. Through medical records we were able to show the prosecutor that my client had a medical condition and that traditional treatments had severe side effects on my client. Under the supervision of a medical doctor in California, my client was being treated with medical marijuana. The marijuana and edibles he had in his position were prescribed by his doctor. The state prosecutor was swayed by our arguments and agreed to let my client plead to a lesser Class A misdemeanor charge. My client went from facing life in prison to a maximum sentence of one year in the county jail. Because he was place on deferred adjudication probation as part of our plea agreement – he has the opportunity to have the case dismissed and not have a final conviction on his record.
Granted this was a rare case. However, by showing that you are different from what the prosecutor typically sees, you are more likely to achieve a better resolution of your case.