Entering a Diversion Program in Mesa County
The state of Colorado has some of the most complex laws surrounding drug crimes and DUIs. Here in Mesa County, a defendant may be confused about the consequences of his arrest and what options are available to him. Despite our state requiring hefty penalties for convictions, our courts still offer several alternatives to jail. A diversion program or alternative sentencing program may allow you to avoid time behind bars while also learning new skills and how to avoid becoming a repeat offender.
What Is a Diversion Program?
A diversion program is an alternative sentencing option. Upon completion of a diversion program, a defendant may have his charges dismissed or receive a reduced jail sentence for time served.
The most common form of alternative sentencing is probation, which can involve community service, drug or alcohol classes, therapy, counseling, and other programs to help the defendant deal with the issues that caused him to commit a crime in the first place. Being granted probation also comes with certain restrictions, such as avoiding future criminal activity and not associating with known criminals, participating in random drug tests, paying restitution to any victims, being on house arrest, ankle bracelet monitoring, and not being allowed to own a firearm.
Other than probation, there are also specialized diversion programs for specific crimes. For example, drug offenders may be eligible for one of Colorado’s Drug Courts, which provide alternative sentences for individuals with substance abuse issues. Colorado also has treatment alternatives to incarceration for individuals with mental health needs, such as granting probation to individuals charged with crimes due to their mental health issues.
The state of Colorado currently funds 12 different diversion programs, including programs in Mesa County. These diversion programs, or pretrial assessment programs, apply to low-level offenses and non-violent crimes. For example, a court may reduce a defendant’s domestic violence charge in return for the defendant completing anger management classes.
A judge will evaluate several factors to determine if the defendant is eligible, including:
- Criminal history
- Seriousness of the charges
- Attendance in court
- Prior participation in a diversion program
- Probation or parole status
- The needs of the defendant
- Input from the victim
What Diversion Programs Are Available in Grand Junction?
Mesa County has diversion programs for both adult and juvenile offenders. These programs are geared toward helping defendants grapple with an underlying issue, such as substance abuse or mental health, in return for a reduced sentence.
Adult diversion programs include:
- Alcohol Probation: When a defendant is charged with a DUI or other alcohol-related crime, the court can consider Alcohol Probation as an alternative to jail time. As a part of this program, the Alcohol Drug Driving Safety Unit (ADDS Unit) will oversee the defendant’s probation, including treatment for alcohol abuse, DUI classes, community service, and other requirements.
- Drug Court: A defendant may have her case handled by Mesa County’s Drug Court. This program involves assessing the defendant for substance abuse issues and determining how to proceed with treatment and rehabilitation. It is a common option for people who have been charged with drug use or possession and can allow them to avoid jail time.
- AIIM: Larimer County has the AIIM Program & Wellness Court, which assess defendants for mental health issues that may have resulted in a criminal act. These programs provide mental health treatment and counseling as an alternative to jail time.
Mesa courts will process juvenile offenders through the Youth Accountability Program. This effort is spearheaded by Juvenile Justice Coordinators, who will review the nature of the youth’s charges with their parents and law enforcement to develop an alternative sentencing program. This may include drug treatment, counseling, mandatory curfews, house confinement, and community service. This program is handled outside of the court and can allow the juvenile to avoid the long-term implications of an arrest.
If you are arrested for a crime in Grand Junction, it is important to review all of your options with an experienced lawyer. The Mesa County DA’s Office may offer a plea deal in return for a reduced sentence, but you should never agree to anything without weighing the consequences. A skilled Grand Junction criminal defense lawyer at Peters & Nolan, LLC, can sit down with you in a free consultation, research diversion programs, or defend you in a criminal trial to avoid all penalties. To discuss your case, call Peters & Nolan, LLC, at (970) 243-4357.
Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.