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Understanding diversion programs in Arizona

Some people in Arizona who are arrested on criminal charges may face lengthy trials to determine the outcomes of their cases. Concerns about extensive penalties associated with trials along with the general stress of the experience can make this an option many people wish to avoid. Some defendants may be able to participate in what are known as diversion programs instead of having to undergo a full trial.

As noted by the Arizona State Legislature, a conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge is one situation that can result in the court ordering a defendant to participate in a diversion program. These programs are approved by either a probation department or the state Department of Health Services and all costs are required to be paid by the participant. 

Not everyone accused of a crime is a candidate for a diversion program. According to the Treatment Assessment Screening Center, an approved diversion program provider in Maricopa County, a person facing a felony charge is unable to enter such a program. Other parameters for involvement in a diversion program include the following:

The defendant’s record must have no prior felony convictions.

  • The defendant’s record must have no prior misdemeanor convictions within the previous five years.
  • The defendant may not have participated in any other diversion program within the previous five years.
  • The crime for which the defendant is accused shall not include any physical harm to or contact with another person.

Additionally, diversion programs cannot be ordered for people charged with motor vehicle violations.

The intention of a diversion program is to provide defendants with an opportunity to provide service to their communities and learn valuable skills that help them avoid future problems. 

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