How Diversion Programs Can Help Those Facing Drug Charges

How Diversion Programs Can Provide a Second Chance for Drug Offenders

Individuals facing drug charges often feel scared, overwhelmed, and unsure of what comes next. But diversion programs aim to provide an alternative solution focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment. These programs recognize addiction as a disease and provide resources to help people get back on the right path.

What are Diversion Programs?

Diversion programs, sometimes called intervention programs, provide a way for those struggling with addiction to avoid harsh legal penalties and access treatment instead. Prosecutors refer eligible defendants into these voluntary programs as an alternative to prosecution or incarceration.Participants complete substance abuse education, counseling, community service and other requirements over a set period of time, usually 6 months to 2 years. Upon successful completion, the original drug charges are often dismissed or reduced.

Benefits of Completing a Diversion Program

Successfully finishing a diversion program for drug charges can provide many advantages:

  • Avoid a criminal record – Completing the program means drug charges are often dropped or reduced to a lower offense. This prevents a damaging drug conviction from appearing on someone’s criminal background.
  • Continue education or keep a job – A criminal record can prevent acceptance into college or trade school programs. It can also lead to termination or difficulty finding employment. Diversion helps avoid this disruption.
  • Improve life skills – Programs provide counseling, life skills training, health evaluations and more. This prepares individuals to make positive choices moving forward.
  • Regain freedom – Rather than face potential jail or prison time, participants can stay with their families and communities while completing program requirements.

Diversion Program Eligibility

Diversion programs have specific eligibility criteria. In general, potential participants must:

  • Be adults and first-time offenders
  • Face low-level possession charges rather than trafficking or distribution offenses
  • Demonstrate addiction which contributed to criminal behavior
  • Show willingness and ability to complete program mandates

Prosecutors typically decide who qualifies for diversion on a case-by-case basis. Those accused of violent crimes or who have long criminal histories are often ineligible.

What to Expect in a Diversion Program

Requirements vary by state and county, but most diversion programs last 12-24 months and include:Substance Abuse Treatment

  • Inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment
  • Random drug testing
  • Support group attendance like Narcotics Anonymous meetings

Life Skills & Education

  • Counseling and relapse prevention planning
  • Job training opportunities
  • Health education like HIV testing and risk reduction lessons

Community Service

  • Volunteering with local nonprofits and charitable organizations
  • Neighborhood clean-up participation
  • Graffiti removal projects

Probation Check-Ins

  • Regular meetings with program case managers and probation officers
  • Progress evaluations
  • Ensuring compliance with all mandates

What Happens After Successful Completion?

Those who successfully finish diversion program terms receive positive legal outcomes in return. Typical results include:

  • Dismissed Charges – Around 70% of graduates see original drug possession charges completely dismissed.
  • Reduced Charges – Almost 30% have eligible charges reduced to lower offenses like disorderly conduct.
  • No Criminal Record – Successful completion means avoiding the long-term consequences of a drug conviction.
  • Freedom – Rather than face jail time, participants regain their independence.

Seeking Legal Help to Pursue Diversion

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise whether diversion is appropriate and help clients qualify and enroll into programs. Attorneys assist with tasks like:

  • Negotiating with prosecutors for diversion eligibility
  • Gathering evidence of addiction as a mitigating factor
  • Developing personalized treatment plans to present to the court
  • Connecting clients to counseling and community resources
  • Advocating for successful program completion and positive legal outcomes

Without quality legal representation, many deserving candidates miss out on diversion opportunities. An attorney levels the playing field against seasoned prosecutors to help clients access this valuable second chance.


Facing drug charges puts individuals into a scary limbo filled with uncertainty. But diversion programs allow people to take responsibility for their actions and work toward personal growth. These programs recognize the power of rehabilitation and grace. Successfully completing mandates leads to incredibly positive legal and life outcomes compared to traditional prosecution and incarceration. With proper legal guidance, diversion provides a light at the end of the tunnel for people ready to make a change.