Diversion in the United States

Diversion is the routing of persons into alternative programs or activities rather than formally charging them with crimes. Diversion is one of the most important options available to law enforcement and prosecutors at the screening or charging stage of the criminal process. It is a technique used extensively with both adults and juveniles. Programs that deal with drug problems, for example, may provide a better alternative for an offender than formal prosecution. When a person is diverted, formal prosecution is not necessarily abandoned. Rather, the person is given an opportunity to participate in a particular alternative activity by deferring the prosecution decision. If the alternative program is successfully completed, prosecution will not occur. If, on the other hand, a person does not wish entry into a program or fails to perform satisfactorily once in a program, he or she will likely be prosecuted as though no diversion option existed. Diversion programs are usually quite attractive to the offender because suc- cessfui compl&tiOR flif ffe? activity eliminates any record of the offense.

See Also

Charge (Criminal Process); prosecutorial function,178.

Analysis and Relevance

Diversion judgments are made by police, prosecutors, or courts. In the case of police-based or prosecutor-based diversion, the judgment to divert rests with a police agency or the prosecutor. Cases diverted by police or prosecutors neither appear in court nor require prior court approval. Court-based diversion is more extensive and typically involves community agencies outside the court structure as well as some units structurally attached to the courts. Diversion attempts to capitalize on the presence of community alternatives to adjudication, many of which are for substance abuse problems. If diversion is successful, it benefits the offender and saves the judicial system from having to process a particular case. Diversion has been a particularly effective technique for handling juveniles.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Diversion from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Diversion in the context of Juvenile and Family Law

Definition ofDiversion, published by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges: Procedures for handling relatively minor juvenile problems informally, without referral to the juvenile court.

Diversion in the Criminal Justice System

This section covers the topics below related with Diversion :


Case Processing


See Also

  • Courts
  • Case Processing

Diversion or Informal Diversion in Juvenile Law

In this context, Diversion or Informal Diversion information is available through this American legal Encyclopedia.


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