Do you qualify for a pretrial diversion program in Michigan?

While Michigan has slowly made steps to reform its current criminal justice system, even low-level offenses can result in devastating sentencing for many defendants in Lansing, MI. For many who are arrested and charged, the fines, community service, monitoring, and other penalties can make it impossible to ever recover from their mistakes. 

Fortunately, there has been significant improvement to rehabilitative options like pretrial diversion programs for those who commit minor crimes (and even some felonies once in a while). At Coontz Law, we believe in a Clean Slate and having the opportunity to improve your life. We not only provide an aggressive defense but have extensive experience in advocating for our clients’ rights and alternatives to incarceration.

What is pretrial diversion in Michigan?

Michigan courts often have pretrial diversion programs that offer an opportunity to avoid a permanent criminal conviction on your record. Those who participate will have to complete a required rehabilitation or treatment program. Once all requirements are met, they will either have their charges reduced, dismissed, or sealed from public records. 

Many of us are aware of diversion programs that deal with crimes involving drugs or alcohol, but Michigan courts offer much more than this. From veteran-based pretrial diversion to opportunities for those struggling with mental health, state programs offering defendants a chance to minimize the impact of their crimes and move forward in life are diverse. 

Below is an overview of some of the more well-known diversion programs in Michigan:

  • MCL 333.7411 offers first-time drug offenders of any age the opportunity for treatment to offset their drug possession convictions.  
  • MCL 769.4a is designed for first-time domestic abusers seeking a way to stop committing acts of domestic abuse. This program requires close monitoring of participants who will have to attend anger management counseling/classes at least once per week for a year.  
  • Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) focuses on rehabilitating youthful offenders between the ages of 17 and 23 (and as of October 1, 2021, between the ages of 17 and 25). This program covers a long list of criminal convictions and offers a clean slate for those that complete the probation requirements. Our founder Dustyn Coontz has had many HYTA cases, including two that he has taken to the Michigan Court of Appeals. One of those cases resulted in a rare published decision on HYTA’s requirements (and a victory for our clients)!
  • Veterans Court helps former service members who are struggling with addiction and related PTSD issues. This program covers everything from housing, employment, and drug treatment. 
  • Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) helps underage drinkers in the criminal justice system through various program services to help them stop using alcohol. First offenses are civil infractions, but second offenses are misdemeanors that allow for deferral and dismissal.
  • Precharge diversion programs: Some local prosecutor’s offices will allow diversion programs without you even being charged of a crime. Eaton County Prosecutor’s Office has a specialized retail-fraud (i.e., shoplifting) diversion program. And the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office has a diversion program for first-time nonviolent offenders, even if you’re accused of a felony. Whether you are offered a diversion program is entirely the prosecutor’s choice, but it’s nice to know that it’s something you can ask for when you’re accused of a crime in or around Lansing, MI. 

Keep in mind that this is just a small overview of just a handful of the many different diversion programs available in Lansing, MI, and throughout the state. Every court and locality offers its types of beneficial programs for certain types of offenders. The state itself doesn’t provide a standard diversion program, so each county has its own criteria to qualify for these programs. Knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys like those at Coontz Law are familiar with current diversionary offerings in Lansing. They can advise you on whether your legal matter would qualify you to participate.

There are even opportunities for those who have committed unemployment and welfare fraud, animal abuse, and disorderly conduct in Michigan, so make sure to speak with a lawyer before assuming you don’t qualify. 

Why you need a Lansing criminal defense attorney

Only experienced criminal defense attorneys that practice in Lansing, MI, will know what pretrial diversion programs are available in that area. If you have recently been charged with criminal conduct, reaching out to our legal team at Coontz Law can not only inform you of your rights but ensure you get the most beneficial solution for your legal matter. 

Trust our knowledgeable Lansing criminal defense attorneys to thoroughly explain what you need to do to be eligible for a pretrial diversion program. Without helpful counsel to advocate on your behalf, you may never know what is available. Prosecutors rarely volunteer this information and simply want to convict you and quickly move on to their next case. Contact our office right away to schedule a consultation to discuss your criminal case as soon as possible.