HOW TO GET A CASE DISMISSED... EVEN IF YOU ARE GUILTY
March 1, 2016
Believe it or not, there is mercy in the criminal justice system for those of us who have stayed out of meaningful trouble our entire lives. The general idea is this: because the offense you are charged with isn't outrageous and you haven't been found guilty of a relatively serious charge in your life, you can eventually get this one thing off of your record, this one time. Of course, you will pay for this option, and you will be under supervision by the courts, but in most cases, you'd be looking at all of that happening to you anyway, without the benefit of a dismissal at the end of the case. Read below for the basics, but keep in mind that there are many, many exceptions involved here. For an accurate discussion based on your specific situation, call Eastside Legal today.
DIVERSION IN TENNESSEE
If you are charged with a criminal offense in Tennessee, it is important to know whether or not you are eligible for a process called diversion. For some criminal cases, a diversion can result in the original charge being dismissed and expunged. If granted diversion, you can avoid incarceration by completing a diversion program and in turn, avoid the stigma that accompanies a criminal conviction.
There are two types of diversion in Tennessee: (1) Judicial diversion; and (2) Pre- Trial Diversion
Pre-trial diversion is essentially an agreement entered into between the district attorney and defendant in which the state agrees to suspend the case for a certain period of time while the defendant participates in some form of court supervision or performs some condition of suspension. If the defendant successfully completes the requirement/restriction placed on him/her during that period of suspension, the original charge is dismissed. In order to get this type of diversion, you must meet certain statutory requirements:
defendant has not previously been granted pretrial diversion;
defendant does not have a prior conviction for a Class A or B misdemeanor or for any class of felony; and
the charged offense subject to suspension is not a felony, DUI, or sexual offense prohibited by title 39, chapter 13, part 5
Judicial diversion is another diversion program available to “qualified defendants” in Tennessee. With judicial diversion, a defendant enters a conditional plea of guilt and is placed on supervised probation. The defendant pleas guilty or nolo contendre to the charge, however, the offense sentence is not imposed if the defendant can successfully complete the probationary period. After successful completion of the probationary period, the defendant can have the offense expunged from his record. In order to get this type of diversion, you must meet certain statutory requirements as well:
defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty or nolo contendre to the offense for which deferral is sought;
defendant does not have any Class A misdemeanor convictions or higher for which a sentence of confinement was served;
defendant is not seeking deferral for a sexual offense, a violation of 71-6-117 or 71-6-119, DUI, or a Class A or B felony; and
defendant has not been previously granted judicial diversion or pretrial diversion
With both Judicial Diversion and Pretrial Diversion, an application for eligibility must be submitted to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) for approval. Normally there is an application fee of $100, however, the fee can be waived by court order for indigent clients.