There are two types of diversion in Tennessee, pre-trial and judicial diversion. Some counties will only offer judicial diversion. Judicial Diversion is common in Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, Rutherford, Sumner, and Williamson counties. Putnam, Montgomery and Wilson counties for example, often utilize Pre-Trial Diversion for misdemeanor cases. Pre-trial diversion is not available for felony crimes in Tennessee, rather only judicial diversion.
Diversion requires obtaining a certificate of eligibility prior to attending court. If traveling from out of state, it is very important you speak with an attorney prior to your court date.
Two Types of Diversion in Tennessee
Judicial Diversion – summarized, judicial diversion is a conditional plea of guilt. You are placed on supervised probation for a certain period of time and so long as you comply with the terms of probation, the case is dismissed. Although you have plead guilty, the court does not find you guilty and ultimately never will as long as you comply with probation.
Pre-Trial Diversion – is an agreement with the district attorney’s office that in exchange for you complying with what is in effect supervised probation, then they will not prosecute your case. As long as you successfully complete probation, the case is dismissed.
Diversion Eligibility Requirements
1. Must have not been previously granted diversion; and
2. Must have NO prior felony convictions, or any prior misdemeanor convictions in which you served a jail sentence; and
3. The offense for which you’ve been charged must be appropriate for the type of diversion being requested. In other words, pre-trial diversion cannot be used for a felony charge. Either pre-trial or judicial diversion can be used in Tennessee on a misdemeanor crime.
Am I guaranteed diversion if I have never been in trouble?
Not necessarily. Some charges are not eligible for diversion and in some instances, the district attorney may not offer diversion even if the person has never been in trouble and is otherwise eligible. Not every case or person is eligible for diversion. An application must be filed with the T.B.I and it is then sent to the district attorney’s office. If eligible, the district attorney will consider offering as a plea agreement.
If I am eligible, is this a guaranteed offer?
No, the district attorney has discretion in whether or not to offer diversion to an eligible defendant however if diversion is refused to an otherwise eligible defendant, there must be a legally sufficient justification as to the reasons for the refusal.