Diversion Programs in Minnesota

Counties across the State offer diversion programs as alternative options to the criminal court system. In lieu of proceeding through the many hearings leading up to trial, an individual may apply for acceptance in the counties diversion program – which is similar to an extended probation. If an individual successfully completes the diversion program, the pending charges are dismissed by the Court – obviously a very positive result for anyone facing criminal charges.

Whether you are eligible for a diversion program is dependent upon its availability in the jurisdiction, and then the type of charges you are facing, the level of the alleged offense, your previous criminal history, and the nature of the alleged offense. Typically, diversion programs are available for individuals facing non-violent crimes, such as thefts, shoplifting, damage to property, check forgery, credit card fraud, and certain drug offenses. And even if you meet the minimum requirements for the diversion program, the prosecutor has the final say. This is why it is so important for you to hire a Minnesota criminal defense attorney because the attorney knows what factors the prosecutor will look at when analyzing whether or not to agree to a diversion program in any given case.

Each counties diversion program is different in their operation. For those that have diversion programs for felony-level offenses, you are likely required to admit to facts that would support the charges you are facing. The Court will not accept the guilty plea and instead order you to participate in the diversion program. The criminal matter will be continued pending your compliance with the diversion program. And if you successfully complete the diversion program, the guilty plea will never be accepted by the Court and the charges will be dismissed (which will also position you better to have these criminal records expunged). For those counties that have diversion programs for misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor level offenses, a plea may not be a requirement to participate in the diversion program.

As an example of what you can expect, the Hennepin County diversion program – operation de novo – may include the following terms and conditions during the period you are enrolled:

  • Regular oversight from your case manager.
  • You will be expected to stay law-abiding, which means you cannot be charged with a crime.
  • Pay any restitution
  • Complete community service via sentence-to-service
  • Submit to random drug tests

The exact terms and conditions, of course, would be tailored to your particular case.

The successful completion of the diversion program results in a dismissal of the charges. While this is certainly a positive result, it may not be the best possible resolution for your case. There are other alternative dispositions available in any given case. And having a skilled and aggressive Minnesota criminal defense attorney to help you through the process is the smart, first decision you can make anytime you face criminal charges.


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