Bexar County Introduces Program To Keep First Offenders Out Of Jail
A new program in Bexar County might keep some first offenders from going to jail.
District Attorney Nico LaHood announced Monday the creation of the Bexar County Pre-Trial Diversion program. It is available to first-time, non-violent offenders who demonstrate rehabilitative potential.
The program is similar to probation, requiring participants to pay a program fee, attend classes, complete community service, and receive any substance abuse or other treatment to address underlying causes of criminal conduct. Participants will be supervised by officers from the Bexar County Adult Probation Department.
“Our new Pre-Trial Diversion program is a great opportunity for low-risk, first-time offenders to get the structure and opportunity they need to help get them back on the right path to become a productive citizen,” said LaHood.
The people who successfully complete all requirements of the program will have the criminal case against them dismissed. If, however, a participant fails to complete all aspects of the program, the case will be placed back on the trial court’s docket and the defendant will face the full range of punishment for their crime again.
The ultimate goal of the Pre-Trial Diversion is to educate offenders and to prevent their return to the criminal justice system. Many states have first offender programs with different eligibility criteria, ranging from only misdemeanors to certain non-violent felonies making the cut. Many states also have first offender programs for juvenile offenders that have more relaxed criteria. In a typical first-offender program, by completing the program, the defendant keeps a conviction off her record.
The U.S. Department of Justice also has the Federal First Offender program,(under the Federal First Offender Act), available to individuals charged with certain drug-related offenses.
You can find more on the federal first offender program here: http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2014/08/15/1st-offender.pdf