What is Diversion? How do I keep a conviction off of my record?

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We have already discussed expungements, pardons and set-asides; however, what’s even better is keeping the conviction off your record in the first place.  Aside from not getting arrested or winning at trial, there are generally two ways of keeping a conviction off your record: (1) some type of pretrial diversion program or (2) some type of post-plea diversion program.  In Omaha, NE, the two most popular programs for keeping a conviction off your record are Diversion and Drug Court.
 
In order to be eligible for Diversion, you must meet certain requirements.  You cannot have a significant prior record and the crime(s) you are alleged to have committed must not involve violence.  You will not be allowed into a diversionary program if you are charged with violent offenses such as robbery, assault or murder; however, if you are charged with less serious offenses such as shoplifting, drug possession or damage to property, you may be a candidate.  Each person in the Diversion program has requirements that are specifically tailored to that person’s circumstances.  Requirements for Diversion can include restitution, community service, finding employment, finishing a degree, anger management, etc.  If you are allowed into the Diversion program, and you complete the terms of your program successfully, the State will dismiss all charges against you.  If you do not complete the terms of your program, or if you get into additional trouble, you will be kicked out of the program and the State will proceed with your prosecution.
 
The Drug Court program is very similar to Diversion; however Drug Court occurs post-plea and centers on substance abuse.  Post-plea means that you begin the program after you enter a plea of guilty to the crimes you are charged with.  If you complete the program successfully, you are allowed to withdraw your plea of guilty and the State then dismisses the charges against you.  Drug Court generally is more intensive than general Diversion.  Drug Court participants have meetings once a week at the courthouse.  Participants in the program must stay sober and are required to follow-through with their specific treatment program.  For the most part, participants are not kicked out for relapsing; although, there are sanctions for misconduct and serious consequences for lying and/or reoffending.  Because Drug Court is post-plea, the judge can sentence you on your underlying charges at anytime should you not hold up your end of the bargain. 
 
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Nebraska, and you do not have a lengthy record and/or your problems revolve around substance abuse, make sure to speak with your criminal defense lawyer about the possibility of a Diversion or Drug Court program.

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