South Carolina defense lawyer explains how to avoid a criminal conviction
Being charged and convicted of a criminal offense in South Carolina can change a person’s life forever. A criminal conviction can prevent people from getting certain jobs, make getting a home loan harder, and ban them from voting in elections in South Carolina.
Fortunately, South Carolina has diversion programs that allow certain individuals charged with certain crimes to avoid a criminal conviction. But what are these programs? How do they work? And who can apply? Below, you can learn more about South Carolina diversion programs, courtesy of an experienced South Carolina criminal defense attorney.
What is a diversion program?
Diversion programs allow people charged with a crime to avoid a criminal conviction. According to the Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office in South Carolina, diversion programs “provide an alternative to traditional prosecution and are an alternative form of sentencing designed to enable offenders of criminal laws to avoid criminal charges and a criminal record.”
Criminal diversion programs can take many different forms. Sometimes, they’re like probation and require participants to complete certain terms similar to probation. Participants might perform community service projects, attend counseling, make a charitable contribution or pay financial restitution.
In each case, the goal of such diversion programs is the same – for participants to demonstrate they “are capable of behaving responsibly,” according to the Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
What diversion programs are available in South Carolina?
Depending on the criminal charge, South Carolina offers several different types of court diversion programs, including:
- Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) – Diversion program available to certain first-time offenders charged with a non-violent crime.
- Traffic Education Program (TEP) – Diversion program available to drivers with traffic tickets with a penalty of 4 points or less.
- Alcohol Education Program (AEP) – Criminal diversion program available to certain first-time offenders 17 to 20 years old charged with an alcohol-related crime.
- Adult Drug Treatment Court – Diversion program available to first-time offenders charged with certain non-violent drug or alcohol-related offenses.
- DUI Treatment Court Program – Structured, 12-month diversion court program for certain individuals charged with driving under the influence.
- Juvenile Arbitration – Diversion program available to minors charged with non-violent juvenile crimes.
- Veterans Treatment Mentor Court Program – Diversion program for military veterans with certain pending non-violent criminal charges in Richland or Kershaw counties in South Carolina.
These are just some of the diversion programs available through South Carolina’s criminal justice system. Other programs may apply. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you explore all your options.
Who can apply for diversion programs in South Carolina?
The rules and regulations vary for different diversion programs in South Carolina. Some of the most common criteria include:
- Criminal charge must be non-violent.
- Applicant must be a first-time offender.
- For certain programs, applicant must meet age requirements.
In addition, certain time limits apply to many diversion programs. For example, AEP participants must complete the program in 60 days. Juvenile arbitration participants have 90 days to complete their diversion program. TEP diversion program participants have 120 days to complete the requirements for their program.
Why should I hire a defense lawyer?
Diversion programs can be a great way for people charged with a crime to avoid a criminal conviction. But successfully applying for such programs can be difficult. The rules for diversion programs can be very confusing. And if you violate the rules of your diversion program, you could face tough penalties.
Make sure you fully understand your legal rights and all the options available to you. Make sure you talk with a South Carolina criminal defense lawyer who knows how to get the job done right – Matt Bodman P.A.
Located in Columbia and serving clients statewide, our law firm knows how criminal diversion programs work in South Carolina. As your legal team, we can work with you to explore the best way to resolve your legal case on your terms. Contact us to discover what we can do for you. Schedule an appointment today.