It can be scary to face drug charges, especially when prosecutors threaten you with fines and jail time. But if you’re facing your first offense, then you have a lot of options at your disposal as far as how to resolve your case. While trying to suppress evidence or reach a plea deal that reduces the severity of the penalties you’re hit with, another option is to consider a pretrial diversion program.

How does a pretrial diversion program work?

Through a pretrial diversion program, you agree to participate in various services meant to address any underlying substance abuse issues in hopes that it will prevent further involvement with the criminal justice system. In exchange, your criminal case is put on pause and, if you successfully complete the program, the prosecutor’s office will dismiss your charges and your arrest record may become restricted from public access.

What services are involved?

This depends on the circumstances. You’ll probably have to complete some sort of evaluation and then follow recommendations from that assessment, which might include some sort of substance abuse treatment. Random drug screening and additional classes might also be required.

What happens if the diversion program isn’t completed?

If you don’t complete a pretrial diversion program, then the criminal case simply proceeds as it would otherwise. This means that you could face conviction, the implementation of penalties, and a criminal record that becomes available for public view. In other words, your future is put at risk if you don’t complete the program.

What course of action is best?

This is a decision that only you can make, but you should only make it after you are fully informed of your options. That’s where a criminal defense attorney can help. One of these legal professionals can advise you of your criminal defense options while identifying the benefits and risks associated with each. Then, once you decide on the course of action that is right for you, your attorney can aggressively advocate on your behalf in an attempt to reach the outcome you desire. Your choice of attorney shouldn’t be made lightly, though, so be sure to do your research before settling on one.