Diversion Programs in Florida

The State Attorney’s Office in Hillsborough County uses diversion programs to divert the least serious criminal cases away from the courts in Tampa and Plant City, FL. Entering a criminal justice diversion program to resolve a criminal accusation might not be the best option if:

  • you are actually innocent of the underlying offense; or
  • the prosecutor can’t prove the accusation beyond all reasonable doubt.

The time needed to complete the sanctions imposed in the diversion programs can be extremely time-consuming and expensive.

If you are a professional with a license to do your job, the licensing board might treat the fact that you entered a diversion program as an admission that you were guilty of the underlying offense.

If you are rejected from the diversion program because you are not eligible or because you fail to meet one of the special conditions, then the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office will file a request for a new court date that provides:

“This is to advise that the above-referenced defendant has been rejected from the diversion program. Please schedule for arraignment and issue a summons for the defendant to the updated address on file.”

An attorney can help you determine whether a diversion program is the best way to resolve your case. An attorney can also help you find ways to complete the program faster or on more convenient terms.

Attorney for Diversion Programs in Hillsborough County, FL

If you are considering entering a diversion program but are concerned about its impact on your career, contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We can help you negotiate the best resolution in your case.

During the initial consultation, we can explain the pros and cons of each approach so that you can make an informed decision.

We can represent you on the underlying charges if you were rejected from PTI, MIP, RIDR, DETRR, or another diversion program in Tampa, FL.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

Types of Diversion Programs in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit

The different types of diversion programs that are used in the Thirteen Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County at both the Plant City and the Tampa Courthouse include the following:

  • The Drug Education and Treatment Reducing Recidivism (DETRR) Program
    • DETRR Program Level One typically lasts six (6) months, beginning when you sign and submit the agreement. For the DETRR diversion program, you might be required to report to the Department of Corrections (DOC) directly after court, Room 348 (third floor of the Criminal Court Annex), with a copy of your contract.
    • To complete the program, you might be required to undergo an evaluation and treatment by a substance abuse community treatment provider, including ACTS, DACCO, Phoenix House, Tampa Crossroads, or Westcare. In some cases, you can obtain counseling from a private provider.
    • If you complete the program, the prosecution for the charge or charges will result in a nol pross (nolle prosequi).
  • The DUI Diversion Initiative (RIDR)
    • Beginning March 1, 2018, anyone arrested for a first and non-aggravated form of DUI in Hillsborough County can be considered for a diversion program called the Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism (“RIDR”).
    • The DUI diversion program only applies at the sole discretion of the State Attorney’s Office after a first-time DUI arrest when there is no disqualifying criminal record, the BAC is .20 or lower, no children were in the vehicle, and no crash or property damage occurred.
    • If you enter the program, you must agree to complete all of the standard terms for a first DUI conviction plus enhanced sanctions (installing an ignition interlock device, SCRAM monitor, or drug patch).
    • In exchange, the prosecutor will reduce the DUI to reckless driving and let you enter a plea for 12 months, and a withhold of adjudication.
    • The withhold of adjudication means that you might be eligible to seal your criminal history report after probation is completed successfully.
  • Misdemeanor Intervention Program (MIP)
    • MIP gives a person accused of a first offense an opportunity after the arrest or notice to appear to accept responsibility for their actions, seek rehabilitation, and divert their cases from the criminal court system.
    • The misdemeanor intervention program in Hillsborough County is administered and supervised by the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office Probation for this judicial circuit. Eligibility requirements and approval for entry into the MIP program can be determined at the arraignment.
  • Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) –
    • The PTI program is a post-arrest diversion program operated by the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC). The purpose of the PTI program is to allow first-time felony offenders to avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction by diverting their cases from the trial court process after an arrest. Defendants with a qualifying third-degree felony may be approved for this program.
  • Domestic Violence Intervention (DVIP) –
    • The DVIP program was created for men and women accused of domestic violence. The program is designed to reverse the cycle of domestic violence and keep the family unit intact.
    • This program requires the alleged offender to complete a 26-week Batterer’s Intervention Program, a substance abuse evaluation, and other recommended treatment if deemed necessary.
    • To complete the program, the defendant must enter a guilty plea to the charges to participate in this eight-month program.
    • If the defendant successfully completes the program, the plea will be vacated, and the case will be nolle pross (dropped). This allows the offender to apply to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in a separate proceeding to seal or expunge their criminal record if otherwise legally eligible.
    • Eligibility for the Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Program includes the offenses of Battery, Assault, Stalking, Criminal Mischief, and Disorderly Conduct. Those domestic violence offenses are not eligible for the adult pre-arrest diversion program (APAD).
    • The State Attorney’s Office determines whether the criminal charge is eligible for diversion on a case-by-case basis, depending on the facts surrounding the charge.
    • Eligibility for the domestic violence diversion program requires that the defendant has no prior adult felony arrests and/or convictions and not more than one prior conviction for a non-violent misdemeanor crime.
    • A defendant is only permitted to participate in this program once in a lifetime.  Additionally, the victim must consent to the defendant’s participation in this program.
  • DWLS Diversion Program
    • The DWLS (Driving While License Suspended) Program promotes public safety, encourages drivers to drive safely with a valid driver’s license and appropriate insurance coverage, and satisfies their financial obligations.
    • Upon completion of the program, eligible defendants charged with Driving While License Suspended will have the charge changed to the criminal charge of Driving with No Valid Driver’s License (No Valid D.L.).
    • An application fee must be paid within 30 days of application to the Office of the State Attorney, in addition to any of the costs of supervision that must be paid to the program.

Additional Resources

National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies – NAPSA is a national professional association for pretrial diversion and pretrial release professionals. The national organization helps pretrial diversion professionals throughout the United States with ways to collaborate, develop best practices, and measure the effectiveness of these programs. The NAPSA website defines the term “pretrial diversion” to include formal programs outside the traditional court proceedings to resolve criminal accusations. The goal of these programs is to conserve criminal justice resources while reducing recidivism, especially for first-time offenders or those with a minimal criminal record. These criminal justice diversion programs have existed sporadically at the local, state, and federal levels since the early 1960s. Funded by the Bureau of Justice, the educational course called “Diversion 101” was developed by the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies and the Center for Effective Public Policy.

This article was last updated on Thursday, February 7, 2024.