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Pre-trial diversion for first-time offenders in Georgia

Georgia has created a Pretrial Diversion Program in an attempt to keep first-time drug offenders out of jail. The program is only offered to first-time offenders whose crime was non-violent, non-aggressive and did not result in injury to a victim. In addition to drug charges, offenders who have committed domestic violence crimes are also eligible if they have no prior record. While both drug and domestic violence charges may be dismissed or Nolle Prosequi upon completion of the program, a DUI charge may not. DUI offenders may apply to complete the diversion program in lieu of jail time, but will still maintain a criminal record upon completion.

There are several eligibility criteria which must be met. A participant must be at least 17-years-old and must wish to voluntarily enter the program. The participant must reside in Georgia, waive certain rights, pay all fees, costs and fines associated with such, agree to be supervised, complete community service and lead a judge or prosecutor to believe that he or she is not likely to commit another offense.

Due to the strict criteria for admittance, an offender will likely need to obtain legal counsel who can explain and help to fully understand what is expected, and what the participant is committing to. The attorney will submit the application package on behalf of the defendant. Admittance into the program is a contractual agreement with the Department of Corrections for the state of Georgia. If the application is rejected for any reason, the case will be returned to the judge and District Attorney for prosecution.

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