Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

What is a Pre-Trial Diversion Program in Massachusetts?

In MA, if you are charged with certain criminal offenses, you may be eligible for something called a pre-trial diversion program. But what exactly does that mean? Well, in short, it’s a program that allows defendants with little to no criminal past to avoid the traditional criminal justice system. In exchange they are enrolled in a program that, upon successful completion, results in dropped charges and no record. Usually reserved for minor offenses committed by young people, such as non-violent alcohol and drug related crimes, a MA defense attorney can help you determine if pre-trial diversion is an option for you.

Criminal convictions come with a whole slew of problems, from jail time and hefty fines to long-term probation and a criminal record. With pre-trial diversion, you may be able to avoid all of the above. In MA, if your offense was relatively minor and you have little to no criminal record, or you are a veteran, you may be eligible for this program. Run by the local District Attorney’s Office, pre-trial diversion requires the successful completion of several requirements. A Boston defense attorney can evaluate the details of your case to determine if the District Attorney’s Office is likely to agree to diversion. If you are eligible, you may never have to face a judge.

What are the Requirements of Pre-Trial Diversion?

The requirements you must complete are largely dependent on the underlying crime. For example, if you were charged as a minor in possession of alcohol, you may be required to enroll in an alcohol abuse treatment program. If you successfully complete the program, your charges will be dismissed. In order to be considered for the program, however, you must fit into certain categories. These include:

  • You must be between 17 and 22 years of age.
  • Your charge must be a misdemeanor and a first offense (most commonly-approved charges include theft, shoplifting, drunk driving, and assault).
  • You must have no warrants for your arrest.
  • You must have no pending federal or state criminal cases.
  • The court must have jurisdiction over the crime you are being charged with.

Pre-Trial Diversion for Military Veterans

There is one exception for the age requirement – being a military veteran. In fact, certain diversion programs are uniquely tailored to veterans. If you do not complete your requirements or you violate any of its terms, you will be re-entered into the criminal justice system. This exception for veterans is pursuant to the Valor Act. Under this law, a veteran may be permitted to enroll in a diversion program as an alternative to prosecution. In order to qualify, the individual must:

  • Be a veteran, be a member of active service, or have past military history.
  • Be charged with a state crime.
  • Have no previous federal or state convictions.
  • Have no warrants for arrest.
  • Have no pending criminal cases.

Veterans who qualify for the program are usually enrolled in Mission Direct Vet (MDV) treatment programs. MDV offers treatment programs for veterans suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been fighting for the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. Our experienced defense team will evaluate the details of your case to determine the best legal strategy. It is our goal to keep you out of jail and to keep your record clean. If you are facing criminal charges, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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