When someone is facing a South Florida misdemeanor domestic violence charge, it’s worth exploring whether they qualify for a diversion program that would allow them to avoid a conviction.
As our Broward domestic violence defense lawyers can explain, not every defendant is going to qualify and it may not be the best strategic move for every case. But it’s important to discuss the possibility with your attorney.
What is a Domestic Violence Diversion Program?
A diversion program is a type of pre-trial intervention that essentially diverts the criminal case away from the usual track (which can end in conviction, jail, and fines) and instead allows qualifying defendants to complete educational courses and/or service requirements. When the program requirements are successfully met, the charges in the criminal case get dropped and the case is dismissed.
Some of the offenses that disqualify a defendant from a DV diversion program include:
- Battery in which the defendant is accused of using substantial force to slap, punch, kick, or push an alleged victim to the ground.
- Any battery that involves “degrading acts,” such as urinating or spitting on the alleged victim.
- Any battery that involves alleged strangulation or choking of the victim.
- Violations of domestic violence injunctions.
In general, domestic violence diversion program offenses are those involving minor intentional touching but don’t result in serious physical injury. If a defendant has a prior conviction or arrest for a felony as an adult, more than one misdemeanor adult conviction, or any prior domestic violence arrests, convictions, or pending charges, he or she will be ineligible for the domestic violence diversion program. No one is allowed to enter the diversion program more than once in their life.
It’s important to note that domestic violence charges – even those that are dropped due to a diversion program – generally cannot be sealed or expunged. Evidence of the arrest still shows up on your record. That’s why if there is a decent chance that your Broward domestic violence defense lawyer can successfully fight the charges against you, that may be in your best interests. But diversion programs can be an excellent alternative when there is a fair amount of evidence against you in a first-time, misdemeanor Florida domestic violence charge.