There are changes coming for the Pre-Trial Diversion Programs by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. The most important change has to do with the ability of an individual to apply for an expunction on the case.
Changes to Pre-Trial Diversion Program Length
Before, when accepted into a pre-trial diversion (intervention) program they would have to sign a lengthy contract with the State of Texas. These programs used to be 1 year for misdemeanors and anywhere from 1-3 years for felonies. Now, all misdemeanors for pre-trial diversions (with the exception of the DWI program which is very different) are 6 months long.
Pre-Trial Diversion Community Service Requirements
Another change to the Pre-Trial Diversion Program is the amount of community service required. Before, the amount of community service on the contract was 80 hours, which amounted to 10 full days or 20 half days of volunteer work. This was very difficult for individuals who were full time students or those who were working full time. Now the new contracts only require 16 hours, which is only 2 days of community service. This is much more reasonable, and there is no excuse to complete the hours.
Pre-Trial Intervention and Expunction
But in my opinion, the most important change to the Pre-Trial Diversion Program in Harris County has to do with applying for an expunction. On the old contract, individuals were told that by entering the program, they are agreeing to not seek an expunction for at least 2 years from the date they the program is over and their case is dismissed. So on a normal misdemeanor shoplifting case, it would take 3 years (1 year pre trial diversion, 2 year waiting) plus any time in court that it took to actually get into the program, usually 60-90 days. Under the change certain cases, such as theft, will be immediately eligible for expunctions. This means the same person who was charged with theft could now seek an expunction after just 6 months instead of over 3 years.
However, certain cases will still have a 2 year waiting period. Some of those cases are:
- Assault-Family Member
- Terroristic Threat
- Deadly Conduct
- Resisting Arrest
Class A misdemeanors not listed above will have 1 year waiting periods instead of the old 2 year period. And any other class B misdemeanor will have no waiting period.
This is of course always subject to change as it is a policy of the District Attorney’s Office of Harris County. But as is, at the time of writing, this is a great change for those who might be unfortunate enough to be going through this process. If you have specific questions, contact our attorneys regarding your case.