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Pretrial Diversion

About the Program

The Pretrial Diversion Program was created pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-18-80 as an alternative to prosecution for certain offenders in the criminal justice system as a part of District Attorney Flynn D. Broady, Jr.’s Restorative Justice Initiative. The program is designed for low-risk and low-need offenders who have committed crimes that did not result in serious injury to a victim, or who have committed crimes involving family violence. The program is designed to provide education, counseling, treatment and community service alternatives to individuals in the criminal justice system, while at the same time ensuring restitution is provided to the victims of these crimes.

Everyone accepted to participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program will be required to enter into a contractual agreement with the District Attorney’s Office acknowledging their willingness to fulfill the obligations of the program. Participants will receive an individualized program of supervision, which may include counseling, therapy, education, drug screening, community service, and working with a mentor for a specified period in lieu of traditional prosecution. In addition, administrative fees and restitution may be required as a part of the program.

The decision to request to participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program must be made freely and voluntarily and requires legal representation. Participation will occur prior to adjudication (that is, before the defendant pleads or is found guilty), and successful completion of the program will result in dismissal or nolle prosequi of the charges. The program is designed to benefit the individual participant as well as the overall criminal justice system for Cobb County. Applicants who cannot afford an attorney should apply for court appointed representation through the Cobb County Circuit Defenders Office.

Acceptance and Eligibility Guidelines

Acceptance into the Pretrial Diversion Program will generally be based upon consideration of the following:

  1. The nature of the crime,
  2. The prior arrest record of the offender,
  3. The victim's response to the defendant's petition for diversion.

Applicants who have as one of their charges a Driving Under the Influence charge should be aware that a charge of Driving Under the Influence (O.C.G.A. §40-6-391) will not be dismissed due to completion of the Pretrial Diversion Program.  However, other charges associated with such an arrest may be eligible for such dismissal or nolle prosequi. Individualized requirements and certain charges may result in varying lengths of the program.

Eligibility

In general, participants must meet the following eligibility criteria; deviation from these criteria may be considered when appropriate by the Diversion Coordinator, with the consent of the District Attorney, after consideration of the factors above.

1.  The participant must be at least 17 years of age and voluntarily apply, with the advice of legal counsel, to the Diversion Coordinator, requesting consideration in the Pretrial Diversion Program.
             
2. The participant must be willing to comply with drug screening directives from the Diversion Coordinator and should have a government issued identification or at least book in information confirming identity.

3. The participant, as part of the application process, must waive or give up, certain constitutional and statutory rights.

4. The participant must agree to pay all applicable monetary obligations, which may include an administrative fee of $200.00, restitution to victims, reimbursement for appointed attorney’s fees, and drug screening fees.   With the exception of drug screening fees, such payments should be made in full prior to beginning this program, or alternative arrangements for such payments must be approved in writing by the Diversion Coordinator at orientation.

5. The participant must agree to be supervised for a reasonable period of time (typically six months), which will be determined following an evaluation of the individual circumstances of his or her case.

6.  The participant may be required to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation as well as a mental health evaluation at his or her own expense. The participant will also be required to submit to any required treatment or therapy program recommended by that evaluation. In addition, educational programs or mentoring may be recommended based on the assessment by the Diversion Coordinator and individual needs.

7.  The participant may be required to complete community service at a nonprofit charitable organization approved by the Diversion Coordinator. Typically, participants are required to complete 40 hours of community service however that amount may be altered by the Diversion Coordinator based upon the individual program. Community service is subject to verification by the Diversion Coordinator.

8. The circumstances surrounding the defendant’s arrest and subsequent conduct must reasonably lead to the conclusion that the defendant is amenable to correction and unlikely to offend again.

Application

To be considered for acceptance in the Pretrial Diversion Program, the participant’s attorney is required to file a completed application with the Diversion Coordinator of the District Attorney’s Office. The Diversion Coordinator will assess the eligibility of the individual offender based upon the criteria outlined above. If the offender is rejected, the case will be returned to the assigned Judge and Assistant District Attorney for prosecution. If the offender is accepted, a contractual agreement outlining the conditions of participation will be prepared and executed. Individuals charged with criminal gang activity or gang charges will not be accepted in the program.

Orientation

At the time of orientation, the participant will be required to pay program fees, restitution, and attorney fees or make payment arrangements to pay such fees with the Diversion Coordinator. Should a payment arrangement be made such payments should be made in a timely fashion and must be completely paid prior to a nolle prosequi or dismissal being entered. The Diversion Coordinator with assess fees based on the individual participant’s requirements and financial situation.

Once the participant has completed the application and signed the required contract he or she will be enrolled in the program. The specific requirements and duration of the program will be determined by the Diversion Coordinator based on individual needs and the offense charged. While in the program the participant will be monitored by the Diversion Coordinator and may be required to submit alcohol and drug testing. The participant must complete all the requirements assigned by the Diversion Coordinator. In addition, the participant understands that failure to complete these requirements may result in termination from the program and the charges returning to the assigned court for prosecution. Participant also acknowledges that his or her criminal history may be periodically checked throughout the duration of the program. Upon successful completion, any bond posted will be released, the charges dismissed or a nolle prosequi entered excluding for the offense of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. Upon dismissal, pursuant to O.C.G.A. §35-3-37 the criminal history record regarding the charges will be restricted from public view.

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