Diversion Programs & Alternate Sentencing in Washington State
Experienced Vancouver, WA attorneys explain your options when facing charges
Washington State recognizes that incarceration should be a last resort, not a first resort. Fortunately, the state offers alternative programs called diversionary programs and therapeutic courts. These programs focus on helping defendants get treatment for their problems instead of spending time in prison. Many defendants who are charged with non-violent and non-sexual crimes may qualify for a diversionary program.
At Philbrook Law Office, PS, our Vancouver, WA criminal defense lawyers work aggressively on your case. We work to suppress evidence against you that was illegally obtained. We are ready to try your case before a jury. Many times, we are able to negotiate plea bargains to less serious offenses. Our Washington lawyers also explain if you are eligible for a diversionary program or therapeutic court. Contact us today to learn more.
What is a diversion program?
In the city of Vancouver, WA, admission to a diversion program or court agreement stays the prosecution, provided the defendant “stipulates to police reports and completes certain conditions over a two year period.” Most first-time offenders and some domestic violence offenders may be eligible. If the defendant completes the terms of the two-year program and there are no other criminal violations, then the charges are dismissed. Normally, you can only use the diversionary program once.
There are separate diversion programs for juveniles.
What are the eligibility requirements for Washington’s diversion programs?
The prosecutor will consider many factors before granting eligibility, including:
- If the crime is a first offense
- The level and nature of the crime
- If violence was involved
- If restitution, such as in a theft case, is required
- If the defendant is “willing and able to stipulate to the facts contained in the police report”
- If there a suitable program “which will help ensure offender does not repeat offense in the future”
- Offenders must agree to the terms of the program. They also must agree to waive their rights to a speedy trial and to a jury trial
- The defendant must agree to stay out of trouble during the length of the program
What diversionary program conditions may apply?
To enter a program, you will normally need to agree to some or all of the following conditions:
- Not to violate any other laws
- Report to a diversionary counselor as ordered
- Keep your same address or notify your diversionary counselor of a change
- Pay all related fees, restitution, and costs
- Complete all required conditions
- Finish a domestic violence treatment program
- Obtain necessary evaluations and then follow any treatment recommendations
- Comply with any no-contact orders or agreements
- Participation and completion of one of the following classes/programs:
- Traffic education
- Domestic violence programs
- Anger management classes
- Alcohol abuse or substance abuse treatment
- Parenting classes
- Completion of a mental health evaluation
- Not possessing a weapon or firearm
- Meeting with the diversionary counselor on a monthly basis and/or submitting written reports
What actions constitute a violation of the diversionary program?
You may be terminated from the program and forced to face prosecution for the charges if you:
- Fail to follow the stay order’s terms and conditions
- Commit any new crimes
- Fail to complete any evaluation or treatment requirements
- Move without giving proper notice
- Fail to pay the fees that are due
- Fail to complete any conditions that are required
What are therapeutic courts?
According to Counseling Washington, the state of Washington has created therapeutic courts throughout the state. As of 2016, Washington had at least 83 therapeutic courts including:
- Adult drug courts
- Juvenile drug courts
- Family dependency treatment courts
- DUI courts
- Domestic violence courts
- Mental health courts
- Veterans’ treatment courts
Therapeutic courts are authorized by RCW 2.30.030. This statute sets forth how the courts are established, the eligibility requirements, best practices, dependency limitations, and other considerations.
How do therapeutic courts work?
In many ways, therapeutic courts work like diversion programs – except that there is more judicial monitoring of the defendant’s progress and the defendant may need to plead guilty to the offense before he/she is eligible.
Defendants must normally comply with similar conditions as for diversion programs with a special focus on addressing the programs in the specific court they’re assigned to. For example, this means drug courts will focus on drug evaluation, monitoring, and treatment. DUI courts focus on alcohol abuse evaluation, monitoring, and treatment.
Contact our experienced criminal defense and diversion program lawyers today
At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver, WA criminal defense lawyers guide you through every stage of the criminal process. We want to keep you out of jail, get the help you need, and avoid a criminal record. To learn what diversion programs are available for your case and to speak to an aggressive defense lawyer in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA, please call 360-695-3309 or complete our contact form. We also serve the greater Portland area and Oregon State. We meet with clients in prison, if necessary.