The criminal justice system may seem like it only seeks to punish individuals who make a mistake. However, there are many options within the system where there is leniency.
This is especially true when it comes to first-time offenders. Courts recognize that mistakes happen. They know that you might show a lack of good judgment that leads to a criminal charge. According to Travis County, if your first offense is a low-level felony, you may be able to go through the felony pretrial diversion program.
Start the program
The program is only for you if this is your first criminal charge. You must have a low-level offense, which typically means it is non-violent and not a serious felony charge.
To enter the program, the district attorney must accept you into it after you complete an application. When the DA accepts you, you will attend a hearing where you must sign an agreement. The agreement lays out the plan and requirements you must meet to successfully complete the program.
Complete the program
You must complete all requirements of the program to end it successfully, which means the prosecutor dismisses the charges against you. The requirements you must meet often depend on your charges. They may include community service, drug treatment programs, and counseling.
As part of the program, you also must pay a supervision fee. You may also have to pay restitution, and you must pay for all associated costs of any requirement.
The program usually takes about a year to complete. If you fail to complete it, you will go back before the regular court to face the charges against you.