The criminal justice system, generally, has three ways to deal with crime: punish the criminal, deter future crimes, and rehabilitate the individual who committed the crime. Diversion programs focus on rehabilitating individuals. Tarrant County stands out in Texas in the number of diversion programs that are available to certain categories of offenders.
Before we get into what diversion programs are and which diversion programs are available in Tarrant County, it is important to point out two things. First, diversion programs are meant for individuals who are guilty of the offense they are charged with. In other words, if you believe you are not guilty of an offense, your attorney will advise you on how to best contest your guilt and not advise you to apply for diversion. Second, diversion programs are difficult to enter and are only available to individuals who are motivated to change.
What is a Diversion Program?
True diversion programs divert individuals who are facing the consequences of an arrest. There are also post-conviction diversion programs which allow a person the opportunity to avoid the typical punishments following a conviction, potentially including avoiding a prison sentence. However, the purpose of diversion programs is not to avoid only to avoid convictions or punishment. Diversion programs meant to give the accused an opportunity for rehabilitation and demonstrated rehabilitation will be rewarded.
Tarrant County Diversion Programs
The Tarrant County Diversion Programs require you have an attorney to assist you with the application process and guide you through the program. Our firm has helped a great number of individuals enter diversion programs. As former Tarrant County prosecutors we are uniquely positioned to advise you on how to maximize your chances of getting into a Tarrant County Diversion Program.
How Do Diversion Programs Work?
Diversion programs are only meant for individuals who are guilty of the offense they are charged with. Admission into a diversion program is not something that can be guaranteed nor are they meant for individuals who believe they are entitled to be in the program. Applicants must, instead, demonstrate a commitment to changes their lives and be accepted after a rigorous application process.
Generally, specialty court programs have both a carrot and a stick. For pre-plea diversion programs, the carrot might be offering the person a dismissal and shot at an expunction, while the stick is the person getting kicked out of the program with prejudice. For post-plea programs (where the person is found guilty, typically in the case of repeat offenders) the benefit is they are given an opportunity to stay out of prison so long as they abide by the stringent requirements of the specialty court program. Damocles’ sword may take the form of a pre-determined prison sentence that is hanging over the person’s head as long as they are in the program. Diversion programs are also referred to as Specialty Courts in Texas.
Specialty Courts in Texas
There are over 140 specialty court programs in Texas. There are adult drug courts, juvenile drug courts, DWI courts, mental health courts, veteran’s courts, just to name a few. Each specialty court is designed to provide an opportunity for a group of individuals who share a common underlying program that has led to their criminal behavior. This includes things like PTSD, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and diagnosed mental health conditions. Each specialty court is designed to first deal with the underlying issue. For example, a specialty court program for drug offenders might include providing clean random drug tests for a period of time, going through a drug treatment program, and meeting with case managers. A specialty court for repeat DWI offenders might require monitors to ensure the person is not drinking, sobriety for an extended period of time, full-time employment, restitution, and attending programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Diversion Programs in Tarrant County
Tarrant County has a number of specialty court programs. You can learn more about these Tarrant County Diversion Programs at the links below:
Tarrant County First Offender Drug Program (FODP)
The First Offender Drug Program is a limited-supervision program for first-time drug offenders that would be considered a “self-corrector.” The applicant cannot have been convicted, have current or past community supervision or deferred adjudication, nor currently have any pending case for offenses other than Class C misdemeanors.
Learn more about Tarrant County FODP.
Tarrant County Deferred Prosecution Program (DPP)
The Deferred Prosecution Program is a limited supervision program designed to give a young person in trouble for the first time the chance to rehabilitate himself or herself without the stigma of a criminal conviction.
Learn more about Tarrant County DPP.
Tarrant County DIRECT Program
DIRECT stands for Drug Impact Rehabilitation Enhanced Comprehensive Treatment. It is a drug court program for non-violent offenders. A person who is accepted into the DIRECT Drug Court Program will go through an intensive probation, but successfully completing DIRECT could result in the person avoid prison time, and even receiving a shortened probation sentence.
Learn more about the Tarrant County DIRECT Program.
Tarrant County Domestic Violence Diversion Program
The Domestic Violence Diversion Program targets domestic violence or violence between intimate partners. Not all family violence offenses are eligible for this program as it is meant for individuals who were in a dating relationship or marriage.
Learn more about the Domestic Violence Diversion Program.
Tarrant County Youthful Offender Diversion Alternative (YODA)
YODA is an alternative to standard pre-trial diversion programs for family assaults presented in County Criminal Court Number Five. This program provides counseling and case management to first-time offenders aged 17 and 25 who have been arrested for assault against a non-intimate family member (defined as blood relative, related by marriage or intimate relationship with another family member).
Learn more about Tarrant County YODA.
Tarrant County Other Behavioral Intervention with Assault Non-Family Program (OBI WAN)
OBI WAN is an extension of the YODA program for first-time defendants between the ages of 17 and 25 with simple assault cases involving persons who are not family members defined as blood relative, related by marriage or intimate relationship with another family member (i.e. roommates).
Tarrant County Felony Alcohol Intervention Program (FAIP)
FAIP is a specialty program used to capitalize on the trauma and consequences of an arrest by early intervention in the alcoholic’s course of abuse; it is a post-adjudication program for the high-risk DWI offender. Generally a person is placed on probation for four years, with time in jail as a condition of probation. An individual who is in FAIP will be revoked to a seven-year sentence if they violate the conditions of FAIP probation.
Learn more about Tarrant County FAIP.
Tarrant County DWI Court
The Tarrant County DWI Court Program focuses on individuals who are charged with DWI-Misdemeanor Repetition charges with the goal of preventing high-risk high-needs individuals from reoffending. This is a post-plea program that suspends some fees and time in jail as a condition of probation.
Learn more about the Tarrant County DWI Court Program.
Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Program
The Mental Health Court Diversion Program is a post-booking, pre-trial diversion program for mentally impaired offenders, offering eligible offenders a treatment option that is judicially supervised. It is designed to divert mentally impaired offenders out of the traditional criminal justice process and into appropriate rehabilitative alternatives.
The mission of the Mental Health Court Diversion Program is to identify mentally impaired offenders, to expedite them through the criminal justice system.
Learn more about Mental Health Diversion.
Tarrant County Veteran’s Court Diversion Program
The Veteran’s Court Diversion Program is a diversion program for Justice Involved Veterans who are currently facing prosecution for one or more criminal cases. The program offers offenders a treatment option that is judicially supervised for veterans or current members of the United States Armed Forces, including members of the Reserves, National Guard, or State Guard.
Learn more about Tarrant County Veteran’s Court.
Tarrant County Reaching Independence Through Self-Empowerment (RISE)
The mission of the RISE Program is to identify vulnerable women with extensive histories of prostitution or prostitution-related offenses, expedite them through the criminal justice system and help them achieve abstinence from all mood altering substances, mental stability, permanent housing and educational/work opportunities that provide them with the legal means to maintain a healthy, productive lifestyle.
With consent of an individual’s attorney, the person is contacted by a member of the RISE staff then evaluated through use of validated assessment instruments and a clinical interview and selected if found to be likely to achieve lifestyle change through participation in the program.
Learn more about Tarrant County RISE Program.
Tarrant County SWIFT Program
The Tarrant County SWIFT program is a post-plea intensive probation program that gives high-risk high-need offenders an opportunity to change and immediate sanctions or punishment for violations.
Learn more about the Tarrant County SWIFT PROGRAM.