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Pretrial Diversion Division

Parish Attorney seal

[ BACKGROUND ] [ PURPOSE ] [ ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA ]
[ PROGRAM COMPONENTS ] [ PROGRAM OPERATIONS ]


Parish Attorney Pretrial Traffic Diversion Program


Background
The Pretrial Diversion Division was founded on August 1, 1975. It was one of ten model pretrial programs established by the U.S. Department of Labor under funding by Title III of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). In 1976 the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington D.C. judged the Baton Rouge model pretrial program the most effective of all the DOL model pretrial programs. After more than twenty-one years of operation, it is one of the most successful model programs nationwide. Recognition of its merit has come from the Department of Labor, the American Bar Association, the New York State Employment and Training Council, and the National Association of Counties (NACo).

In 1977, NACo judged this agency outstanding and awarded this office the national County Achievement Award in the field of criminal justice. The staff has been called upon often for technical assistance in the organization and establishment of similar pretrial programs throughout the nation. In May, 1984, this office initiated the incorporation of Professionals In Pretrial Services (PIPS). This Association is a professional organization for all pretrial practitioners throughout the Southeastern United States.

In 1993 the Parish Attorney properly aligned the Pretrial Diversion Program under the administration of the Parish Attorney's Office.


Purpose

The purpose of pretrial diversion is to intervene in the normal judicial process to divert first offenders from the Baton Rouge City Court System. This diversion results in benefits to the participant, the community, the prosecutor, the courts, and the jails in the following ways:

  1. The participants benefits by having the charges against him dismissed and his record expunged after successful completion of the program.
  2. The community benefits by a reduction in the rate of recidivism (return to crime).
  3. The prosecutor and the court benefit by saving time and money due to a reduction in the number of cases processed.
  4. The jails, benefit by a reduced inmate population, thus providing more jail space for the more serious and habitual offenders.

Eligibility Criteria

An individual should meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for pretrial diversion. He should:

  1. have no previous conviction on his record (first offenders only);
  2. have allegedly committed a nonviolent misdemeanor;
  3. be at least seventeen (17) years of age.

Before an individual is accepted into pretrial diversion, the input of the victim and the arresting officer are obtained. Their input is helpful and may result in the prospective client being denied participation in the program.

Furthermore, all participation in the program is strictly voluntary. A person cannot be forced to participate, nor can he forfeit any of his constitutional rights by participating. Waiver of the right to a speedy trial must be obtained, but at any time the participant may request that his case be returned to the city prosecutor's office for normal processing. A base fee of $150.00 is assessed any pretrial participant who is not determined indigent (economically disadvantaged). An additional fee of $50.00 is assessed for any offense after the first charge with a maximum $250.00 total cost fee for entry into the program (excluding ordered schools.) This fee is charged to help fund in part the pretrial diversion program.


Program Components

Once a participant is accepted into pretrial diversion, he attends regular counseling meetings with his pretrial officer. If the participant has been charged with misdemeanor theft, he is required to attend a one-day session of the responsible thinking class, a court-sponsored shoplifting school. If the participant has been charged with certain misdemeanors involving physical violence, he is required to attend the anger management class. If a participant has been charged with any drug-related offense, he is required to attend a drug abuse training seminar. If the participant is charged with a domestic violence offense he is required to attend the Domestic Violence Offender Program. A long term counseling session program for violent offenders.

In addition to attending an educational class, each participant may be required to perform community service at public or private non-profit agencies in Baton Rouge. The required number of volunteer hours is determined by the participant's alleged offense and his economic status. This volunteer service is required to impress upon the community that the Pretrial participant is striving to be recognized as a positive, contributing member of the community.

These hours are monitored by the volunteer organization's supervisor and the pretrial officer. The participant's job performance, as well as his attitude, determines his overall program performance.

The participant is required to meet on a regular basis with his pretrial officer for individual counseling sessions. The participant may also be required to submit to random drug screens.

Persons arrested or summoned to appear upon the following offenses shall not be allowed into the program unless so ordered.

  1. Aggravated Assault*
  2. Simple Assault
  3. Battery
  4. Simple Battery
  5. Illegal Carrying a Weapon*
  6. Discharging of a Firearm*

* Will result in forfeiture of weapon.

Program Operations

Pretrial Diversion Program Operations