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Is a diversion program right for you?

You may have heard recently that Tiger Woods pled guilty to reckless driving and entered into a diversion program for his arrest on May 29, in which he was found passed out in his car with prescription drugs and marijuana in his system. While he had consumed no alcohol, it is illegal to drive under the influence of any drug, even validly obtained prescription medication. He was originally charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

Diversion programs can help avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction

On October 27, Tiger Woods resolved the charges without having the stigma of a criminal conviction on his record. How? He entered into a diversion program, which is an opportunity for first-time offenders to enter into therapy, treatment or other court-ordered activities meant to provide the offender with the means to avoid committing similar acts in the future.

In New Jersey, there are several types of diversion programs. For misdemeanors involving drugs, the prosecution may agree to the Conditional Discharge Program, also known as Section 36. Under this program, the defendant must fully comply with all of the terms set forth by the court and will be subject to random drug screening for up to three years.

Once completed, the case is dismissed, and the accused is cleared of all charges so that there is no criminal record.

Find out your options

There are many defenses to take in any criminal proceeding. You can contest all charges and defend your innocence at trial. You can plead guilty to a lesser offense after negotiating with the prosecution. In some cases, you may be eligible for a diversion program, which can be a good alternative for some who are willing and able to meet the terms of the program.

Which course is right for you depends on the charges, your circumstances and your goals in resolving the charges against you. This blog is not legal advice for your circumstances, so please speak to a criminal defense attorney to understand your legal options.