Diversion Programs for First Time Offenders in Utah

Interviewer: If someone were to be in the program, like a diversionary program and they’re a first time offender, would that case be dismissed or would it be taken off the record?

Matthew Nebeker: Yeah.  I had a case like that recently.  It was a diversion program.  My client participated in the local diversion program and he had to plead guilty to a reduced charge.  Some of the other charges were dismissed. They schedule the hearing out 18 months.  During that 18-month period, he followed all the rules, he paid his fines and the most important thing is, he completed his counseling and completed the treatment.

The treatment provider signed off and said, “Yes, he did everything that we asked him.  He participated.  He engaged in the treatment.  We think that he no longer has a serious drug issue or a drug problem.” Because of that, the prosecution followed through with their terms and they dismissed the charge against him.  Now, he went and was able to pull his record from the Bureau of Criminal Identification here in Utah.

Drug Related Charges can be Dismissed upon Completion of a Drug Diversion Program

It showed an arrest for a felony level drug charges but it would show that the charges were dismissed.  I think that would be good on anyone’s record, if you’re charged with something that ultimately the charges were dismissed. That was still on his record.  He would have to take another step and get that whole thing expunged, so it didn’t show at all.  But the charges were dismissed for the completion of the drug diversion program.

The Process of Probation for Drug Related Offenders in Utah

Interviewer: Where does probation come into all this?

Matthew Nebeker: On those cases where they don’t qualify for a diversion or a drug court program, they have to enter into some other kind of negotiation or have a trial and have been convicted.  I usually see that a lot where it might be a person’s second or third time in the system with new charges. Say, like it’s their third drug possession charge for methamphetamine, they don’t qualify to get into any other programs so their case either has to be go to trial – we would always request a jury trial in that circumstance.  Or it has to be some kind of negotiation, maybe they plead one count of possession or use and the other two are dismissed or something like that.

Judges usually sentence a Defendant to Formal Probation which entails a Probation Officer

Then depending on what the charge is, the judge will sentence them and put them on probation. That means that they have a probation officer, someone that they have to check in with every month or is that probation officer wants to drop in unexpectedly to where they live or where they work and check on him, that’s what they would have. That’s probation with the probation officer.  That would usually entail going through treatment.  There would be a treatment component of that.  Usually probation will help find the best place to do that.

Sometimes Jail Time is included in a Sentence of Probation

Sometimes, there could be some jail time.  A lot of times you see anywhere from the minimum is 30 days in jail up to six months, a year on some cases, instead of prison.  On the really serious offenses where they have been given two or three other chances in the system, sometimes the judges would just send them to prison. Of course, there won’t be any probation there.  It would usually last about 18 months to 36 months to demonstrate that they’re getting their treatment that they paid their fines and they’re not engaged in that kind of activity anymore.

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