Virginia Does Not Have A DUI Diversion Program To Avoid Jail Time.
Many states believe that if you’re a first offender of any number of non-violent crimes, like a DUI, you shouldn’t necessarily be thrown into the bunch with repeat-offenders and those who commit more serious felonies. They acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes, and it might be better to undergo counseling than it would be to go to court or possibly jail. It can better deter people than more severe punishments.
Unfortunately, Virginia does not currently have a Diversion Program for First Offender DUI cases. However, Virginia does offer a number of First Offender Diversion Programs for Drug Offenses and Larceny cases.
How Does Diversion Work?
Diversion is much less expensive for the city to provide as opposed to a long, drawn-out court process. It also gives defendants more of an opportunity to compensate their victims through community service and restitution orders.
Certain crimes and characteristics allow you to enter into a diversion program. You may not have to enter a guilty plea or no-contest plea to receive diversion, and sometimes you’re diverted to counseling very early on.
In other cases, you do have to enter a guilty plea, but they will suspend punishment until you complete diversion. If you complete the program, they will erase your guilty plea from the system. You typically have to pay for diversion through court fees or directly to the treatment center, and sometimes both.
Diversion may last up to one year and will involve counseling, behavior modification, and treatment. You must attend classes, vocational training, group therapy, community service, make restitution, and pay fines.
If you don’t complete diversion or you are discharged from the program because you refused to adhere to the terms, your case will return to court, and you may suffer more severe consequences. If you already entered a plea before diversion, they will enter it into the system at this time, and the judge will impose a sentence. If you did not enter a plea, you would do so now, and the case will continue as appropriate.
Who Qualifies for Diversion
Participation in diversion programs is normally limited to people who are first-offenders and have never had a conviction in the charges they are facing now. Other common requirements include no probation revocations for other offenses, a period of being without prior convictions of any kind, and no other participation in diversion programs for a set time.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you are facing a criminal charge and you want to know whether or not your sentence could be reduced to diversion, contact a lawyer to discuss your options and figure out what’s best for you. You and your case may qualify for a diversion program rather than jail time or another form of punishment.
Call the Johnson Law Firm to speak with an Experienced DUI Attorney
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