The Diversion program was created pursuant to O.C.G.A. §15-18-80 as an alternative to the prosecution of offenders in the criminal system. The Diversion Program is designed for first offenders who have committed crimes that did not result in injury to a victim, are otherwise non-violent and non-aggressive in nature and do not involve Driving under the influence charges, nor domestic violence; examples include but are not limited to Shoplifting, Underage Consumption, Possession of Marijuana. Therefore, because of the requirements set forth at O.C.G.A. §35-3-37, any case considered for acceptance in the Diversion Program must be accused or indicted prior to being accepted in the program. The District Attorney’s Office must approve any deviation from these published guidelines and may deviate from these guidelines.
In accordance with the conditions outlined in their contractual agreements, individuals accepted to participate in the Diversion Program will immediately be subjected to individualized and controlled supervisory programs for a specified period of time in lieu of traditional prosecution. That is, persons who meet eligibility criteria will be offered the opportunity to participate in the Diversion Program which will serve as an alternative to the county’s traditional methods in handling cases.
Participation in the Diversion Program will be voluntary and if there is counsel, with the advice of counsel, will occur prior to adjudication and if participants satisfactorily complete the Diversion Program, will result in dismissal or nolle prosequi of the charges. It is designed to benefit the individual program participant as well as the overall criminal justice system for Chatham County.
Acceptance into the Diversion Program will generally be based upon the following eligibility criteria:
The Victim’s response to the Defendant’s petition for Diversion.
Offenders with no criminal record will be eligible for program participation. Some exceptions may apply.
Offenders must be at least 17 years of age and voluntarily petition the District Attorney requesting consideration for participation in the Diversion Program.
Unless circumstances prevail, offenders must be residents of Chatham County. Some exceptions would be, the offender is returning home to family, a job out of state, or going away to school.
The case against the offender must be prosecutable.
As a rule, offenders must be gainfully employed or a full-time student. (An exception to this would be a homemaker who would not be required to obtain full-time employment.)
Offenders must be of stable mind and have a stable place of residence.
Offenders must agree to sign forms waiving their right to:
Certain Constitutional rights including the right to a speedy trial
Maintain confidential information such as juvenile records (such records are needed for the purpose of eligibility investigation) and the Offender does not have to admit guilt.
Offenders must agree to perform specific hours of community service (not to exceed 200 hours) be supervised for reasonable periods of time which will be determined by the nature of their crimes and an evaluation of their program participation. (Offenders will be required to enter a contractual agreement outlining the conditions of their participation in order for their petition to receive consideration)
The following persons will not qualify for participation in the Diversion Program:
Persons with extensive juvenile records.
Persons with criminal records of conviction or arrests.
Persons who willfully failed to appear in court while on bond.
Persons who have escape from a mental hospital.
Persons with felony convictions.
Persons who have been arrested for Felony Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act.
Persons who are dependent upon drugs and/or alcohol, unless they have successfully completed a primary treatment program and can verify in writing, their successful completion of the program.
Persons charged with a DUI.
Persons charged with a Battery FVA, Sexual Battery, and Child Molestation.
In order to be considered for acceptance in the Diversion Program, the offender or offender’s attorney will be required to file a petition with the District Attorney’s Office. The Assistant District Attorney on the case may offer the opportunity of Diversion prior to a petition from the Defendant. Copies of the petition will be forwarded to the Assistant District Attorney to whom the case is assigned and the Diversion Unit.
Subsequent procedures for enrollment are as follows:
The Assistant District Attorney will review the case and based on the nature of the Defendant’s offense(s)
Determine the possibility of the petitioner’s eligibility. If it is determined that the offender is a possible candidate for the Diversion Program, the Assistant District Attorney will complete and forward a referral form to the Diversion Representative (Chief Assistant DA) for a background check and final decision.
Upon receipt of the referral form from the Assistant District Attorney, the Diversion Representative will initiate an investigation to establish the offender’s eligibility in terms of personal history, criminal record, employment, residency, etc.
Upon completion of the eligibility investigation by the Diversion Representative, a determination regarding the acceptability of the offender to participate in the Diversion Program will be made.
If the offender is rejected the case will be returned to the Assistant District Attorney for prosecution.
If the offender is accepted, a contractual agreement outlining the conditions of the participation will be prepared and executed. If restitution is required IT MUST BE PAID ON TIME. The offender will be required to pay an administration fee of $300.00 (O.C.G.A. §15- 18-80). All funds are to be given to the Diversion Representative who will distribute the funds to the Clerk of the State Court. All funds are to be paid by certified or cashier’s check or money order only, made payable to Chatham County Clerk of Court. All payments must be given after all the terms are completed. Payments must be brought to the District Attorney’s office for a final review of the case to determine whether the Diversions terms have been completed. Only the District Attorney’s office may submit the payment to the Clerk’s office. There are no payment plans.
Upon execution of the contractual agreement, the offender will be enrolled in the Diversion Program for a specified period of time, and for the duration of the program, the offender will be under the supervision and monitoring of the staff of the District Attorney’s office. Upon successful completion, bond will be released.