If you have been charged with drug-related crime in the state of Georgia, you may be wondering what the future holds if you are convicted. While many people facing drug charges may face time in prison and significant financial penalties, there are alternatives available for first-time, non-violent offenders.

The Pretrial Diversion Program requires participants to complete counseling, community service, drug screenings and other activities during a set amount of time. People who have been convicted of drug-related offenses may be required to stay in the program for a longer period of time and may have to submit to additional and more substantial drug testing and counseling.

Under O.C.G.A. 15-18-80, only certain drug crime offenders will be permitted to enter into the program. Generally, acceptance will depend on the nature of the crime committed, the defendant’s prior arrest record, and victim’s response to the defendant’s petition to enroll. Generally, participants must be Georgia residents ages 17 and up who pay the required fees and agree to supervision for a six to nine-month period (which may vary depending on the case). People who are likely to commit another offense, people with extensive juvenile criminal records or previous arrests and/or convictions, or people dependent on drugs and/or alcohol may not qualify for participation in program.

If you are a good candidate for the program, your attorney will file the application with the District Attorney’s Office. The Diversion Coordinator will then evaluate your case and determine whether you meet the criteria to participate in the program. If you are accepted, you will be enrolled in the program and be required to complete all requirements. Once you successfully complete the program, your drug charges may be dismissed or a Nolle Prosequi, or notice that the prosecutor will no longer prosecute, will be entered.