The Baltimore Sun recently reported that Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison released a sweeping crime plan which includes new deployment strategies, plans for improved technology, and other initiatives to help reduce violence. The plan includes a variety of ideas including:
- Fast response times for priority calls where life or property is endangered
- Micro-zones to focus on high-crime areas
- Better collaboration with the federal, state, and city prosecutor’s offices
- Updates to the latest technology to better report and manage criminal charges
One of the items on the Police Commissioner’s list of goals was to improve a diversion program called the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). Diversion programs often have the same goal – to keep the accused out of jail while requiring that the accused do something in return. The trade-off can be doing a certain number of hours of community service. Trade-offs also include a commitment by the accused to avoid any further problems that could lead to arrest during a probationary period. Defendants may also be required to get counseling or take approved courses to modify their behavior.
Diversion programs generally are used for low-level crimes that don’t involve violence. The defendants must normally also have no prior criminal record or a very minimal record. Normally, if the accused completes the requirements of the program, the charges are dropped and the defendant does not have a criminal record. Law enforcement will know of the diversion program which means if the accused gets into trouble again, the accused won’t be able to use the diversion program a second time
The diversion programs vary from county to county. Some examples of diversion programs in Prince George’s County Maryland, are:
- Writing bad checks. The retailers notify the county who in turns notifies the person who wrote the check. The person is given 10 days to pay the amount of the check or face criminal charges.
- Driving while a license is suspended or without a license. First-time offenders can attend a four-hour diversion class. If the driver obtains a valid driver’s license and completes the class, the charge (and up to five tickets) may be removed from their driving record.
- Marijuana diversion. If you are charged with less than 10 grams of marijuana, then you can take either a six hour course or perform 24 hours of community services. You must also stay drug-free and will be subject to random urinalysis.
- Theft diversion. For theft cases under $1,000 (which usually means shoplifting), offenders can take a six-hour class to avoid prosecution.
Some counties also have driving while intoxicated diversion programs for first-time offenders. Generally, the accused must attend classes, be checked for alcohol in their system randomly, and avoid any criminal charges for a set period of time (such as one year).
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, our primary goal is to have the charges against you dismissed. If the prosecution doesn’t agree to dismiss the charges or the judge doesn’t agree to drop the charges, we explain what diversionary programs are possible. We also work to negotiate fair plea agreements to less serious charges. If necessary, we’re ready to argue your case before a jury. To schedule a consultation with an experienced Annapolis criminal defense lawyer, call Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law at 410.777.8103, or fill out my contact form.
And remember: Keep Calm, and Call Drew.