There are new deadlines in the timing of pre-trial diversions. This morning in county court 5 of Harris County I had a client’s application denied for the pre-trial intervention program because she did not submit her application on time. As of recently, you must submit your application within 60 days of your first court appearance. My client submitted her application on day 68.
Applications must be submitted 1 week before court and must include a letter accepting responsibility and explaining why you deserve to be admitted into the pre-trial diversion program instead of getting deferred adjudication. I also require my clients to submit a separate letter of apology. Applications also must include 2 to 3 letters of recommendation from non-family members who are aware of the charge. Additionally, there must be proof that the applicant is in school, employed, or in the process of applying for school. And finally in certain cases additional items such as drug tests (drug cases), and anti-theft classes (theft cases), might be required.
Even though my client is in their early twenties, and a prime candidate for the pre-trial diversion program she was denied based on the fact that she procrastinated and did not get me the items I needed in the first 60 days. While I personally do not agree with this time deadline, as it does not give adequate time to the defense to conduct a full investigation of the case, it seems the DA’s office is pushing the deadline requirement hard at the moment.
It is very important to submit your items to your attorney as soon as possible. I always tell my clients that their part (letters, transcripts, proof of employment, etc) is easy. These are things that can be done in an hour or less. The hard part is getting others to give you letters. People are busy, and very rarely can people stop their everyday lives to do someone else a favor. In my experience I have seen over and over that people struggle getting recommendation letters from their friends, co-workers, teachers, etc. If you are in the unfortunate situation of having to apply for a pre-trial diversion it is essential that you ask for your letters ASAP! That way, if your friends take 3 weeks to give you the letter, you still have plenty of time before the deadline hits.
A pre-trial diversion is always a backup plan, but if you are lucky enough to qualify it’s important to take it seriously. It can result in a dismissal, and a clean record.