How Does Diversion Work In Kentucky

by mikezimmerman on March 11, 2010

There are two types of Diversion programs in Kentucky, one for felonies and one for misdemeanors/violations.

For felonies, the program is directed by statute and only applies to Class D, non-violent, first time offenders. The Commonwealth’s Attorney must agree to send the charge to Diversion. Once that occurs the defendant is required to plead guilty to the offense. The matter is then sent to the Probation Department for a Pre-Sentence Investigation. If that report comes back confirming that the defendant is eligible the judge will approve entry into the diversion program. If the investigation comes back that the defendant is ineligible, that finding may be challenged or the defendant may request to withdraw his/her plea and start the case again.

Once placed into the Diversion program the defendant has numerous conditions that must be met (treatment for substance abuse, random screens, restitution, no new offenses etc). If those conditions are met, the charge is dismissed at the end of the diversion period (and may later be expunged). The diversion period is generally 3-5 years in length on a felony. While the diversion period is ongoing, the charge remains active and will likely show up on employment background checks as a “pending” charge.

Misdemeanor diversion varies from county to county. Generally, it is required that the defendant be a first time offender (sometimes defined as “first time in Kentucky”), non violent, non DUI (except Jefferson County). For a misdemeanor it does not matter what Class it is. Most counties do not require a plea to be entered before entering the program. However, the conditions that must be met are much like the felony  diversion program (restitution, treatment, no new offenses) though the period is much smaller (generally a matter of months).

The benefit to either program is that, if successfully completed, your record remains clean at the end. However, if the conditions are not met and diversion is unsuccessfully terminated, you will be right back where you started. It takes a commitment, but often times it can be a great second chance.

If you have any questions about a pending case please call me, Mike Zimmerman, at 513-333-0014.

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