Mississippi Criminal Defense Lawyer Curt Crowley:
Pretrial diversion or pretrial intervention (“PTI” for short) is a program where persons who have been charged with a crime can avoid a felony conviction. Here are some frequently asked questions about PTI:
Do I Qualify for Pretrial Intervention or Diversion?
You qualify for PTI if
- you have not previously been in a pretrial intervention program;
- you are charged with a non-violent offense; and
- you are not charged with certain controlled substance offenses.
Am I Disqualified from Pretrial Intervention or Diversion?
You are disqualified from participating in pretrial intervention if:
- You have previously been accepted into an intervention program relating to another case;
- You are charged with a crime of violence, including murder, aggravated assault, rape, armed robbery, manslaughter, or burglary of a dwelling house; or
- You are charged with sale of, or possession with intent to sell, a controlled substance (Note: you may still qualify for intervention if the charge relates to certain amounts of marijuana).
Who Decides If I Get PTI?
The District Attorney, with the approval of the presiding Judge, decides if you will be offered PTI. As with most plea bargains, it is up to your defense attorney to convince the DA to offer you PTI.
What Does The DA Consider When Deciding Whether To Offer Me PTI?
The DA will consider the following factors when determining whether to offer you PTI:
- Whether justice would be served by placing you in intervention;
- Whether your needs, and the needs of the State, would be better served by placing you in intervention, rather than prison;
- Whether you pose a risk to the community if you are allowed to participate in intervention;
- Whether you are likely to commit future crimes;
- Whether you will respond quickly to rehabilitative efforts;
- Whether you have any significant criminal history; and
- Whether the PTI program has the resources available to meet your needs.
It is imperative that your defense attorney provide the DA with proof as to each of these factors, in order to ensure that you are placed in PTI.
What Happens Next If I Am Offered PTI?
Basically, a “time out” is called in your criminal case. In most Courts, once the DA offers PTI, the defendant never even has to appear before the Judge again.
The DA and the defendant will enter into a written agreement which sets the conditions for participation in PTI. These conditions usually include:
- No use of illegal drugs;
- No future criminal activity;
- Payment of fees for participating in PTI;
- Payment of fines;
- Payment of restitution to any victims;
- Participation in necessary counseling or rehabilitation programs; and
- Periodic meetings with a probation officer.
How Long Will I Be In PTI?
That depends. The length of time a person must participate in the PTI program varies from case-to-case. The length of the program will depend on your individual needs. The average minimum time for participation is usually two years.
What Happens If I Complete The PTI Program?
When you complete the PTI program, the Court enters an Order dismissing the criminal case, with prejudice (meaning it can never be brought up again).
Also, you qualify for expungement of any record of the charge. After the record is expunged, it will be like the arrest and charges never even happened.
What Happens If I Violate PTI Conditions?
If you violate the terms and conditions of the PTI program, you will be dismissed from the program, and the criminal case will resume where it left off. In other words, “time out” is over and the criminal charge will proceed through the Court system.
Pretrial intervention is a wonderful program. Intervention allows the defendant an opportunity to keep a mistake or lapse in judgment from ruining his or her life. An obvious benefit of PTI is that the defendant doesn’t go to prison. PTI will also ensure that a person will get the psychological help, counseling, or drug and alcohol treatment they need. This is one of the major benefits of PTI, as it was usually one of these factors that led to the criminal charge in the first place. And, if the defendant completes the program, the criminal case is dismissed. The defendant will leave the program without a conviction. The record is expunged, and life goes on as if it never happened.
It takes an experienced criminal defense attorney to convince the DA that you belong in intervention, rather than jail. I’ve been quite successful at getting my clients into PTI so they can get the help they need, without destroying their lives. If you’ve been charged with a crime, please call me to discuss your case.