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Is there a Federal Pretrial Diversion Program?

The vast majority of the time if one is charged with a Federal crime they are very likely subject to a considerable amount of incarceration. In some situations it’s possible for a hard working Federal criminal attorney to try their client’s case and earn an acquittal. Unfortunately for a defendant, Federal criminal cases tend to be well investigated and by the time the individual is charged, the United States Attorney has a nearly airtight case with which to work. But what about the minor crime committed by one with a squeaky clean criminal history where the crime is seemingly victimless? State criminal courts have pretrial diversion but do our Federal courts? Surprisingly to some, the answer is yes. So what does it take to get into Federal Pretrial diversion?

As with many facets of a Federal criminal charge, the United States Attorney handling the case has a great amount of discretion as to whether to offer diversion. Should you be lucky enough to have a reasonable and compassionate US Attorney, you must still meet the criteria found within the United States Attorney Manual section 9-22.100. In order to qualify for Federal Pretrial Diversion the US Attorney must choose to divert you should you not: have two or more prior felonies, be a public official or former public official accused of an offense arising out of a violation of the public trust, accused of an offense related to national security or foreign affairs, be accused of an offense that under existing department guidelines should be diverted to the State criminal court system. Should you be lucky enough to get into diversion you will be there no longer than 18 months should you complete the program and will still be required to pay any restitution owed.

As with any pretrial diversion program, participation is strictly voluntary (and highly recommended by our Tampa Federal criminal lawyers especially if you can get it in the Federal criminal system) and occurs at the pre-charge stage or at any point prior to trial should your attorney be able to work out a late offer for you. Unlike many State court diversion programs, in the Federal system an offender is not asked to admit guilt prior to entry. This is vital should one fail to comply with the terms laid out for them in that if their case was trial worthy prior to their decision to enter the program, they have not hindered their case by making an admissible admission. Should one fail to meet their terms, pretrial services will notify the US Attorney’s Office who then has discretion to initiate prosecution or allow the individual another chance within the program. Any Federal Attorney would stand on their head to encourage their client to complete the program if at all possible as upon completion the program, prosecution is declined and the case goes away.

Though pretrial diversion is quite rare in Federal criminal cases, in some cases it can be taken advantage of. As a general rule cases eligible for diversion would be theft crimes, very low level drug crimes, federal misdemeanors, and minor property crimes. Think of it in terms of offering a way for a victim to be made whole again while not ruining the life of the defendant. Because of the punitive nature of any Federal charge, an opportunity like pretrial diversion should be strongly considered. If you’re in need of a Federal criminal lawyer, contact the attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm today at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847 today.