The District Attorney’s Office announces changes to its criminal diversion program and the introduction of a new pre-file diversion program.
While diversion has been offered for years as a method of conviction avoidance for a person charged with a lower-level crime, the office is now implementing extensive updates to the diversion policy. The policy is being overhauled both to expand the reach of the current program and to ensure fees do not limit access to diversion by people who may be experiencing financial instability.
District Attorney Charles Branson states, “Effective immediately, my office is abolishing the application and diversion agreement fees for criminal diversions. There will continue to be financial obligations associated with required lab, court and attorney fees and these fees cannot be waived by our office. District Court, however, may consider a request to waive these remaining fees.”
Prior offenses will be considered, but they will not automatically exclude someone from participating in a diversion program unless prohibited by state statute. Specifically, the District Attorney’s Office will use a five (5) year look back of a person’s criminal history. Convictions more than five (5) years old will no longer automatically disqualify an applicant.
In making a determination on granting a diversion, the District Attorney’s Office will consider whether the applicant demonstrates a genuine sense of remorse, is prepared to acknowledge the act(s) charged and accepts accountability for the consequences of his/her actions.
Introducing ADEP (Alcohol and Drug Education Program)
ADEP is a prosecutor led pre-trial diversion program aimed at educating an offender about the harms of substance abuse. The District Attorney’s Office recognizes the change in the publics’ perception regarding the criminality of substance abuse offenses and the recognition that substance abuse is an addiction issue. Further, the District Attorney’s Office recognizes the drain on the legal system that is created by low-level cases consuming valuable court and personnel time.
Beginning May 10, 2018, the District Attorney’s Office will offer an opportunity for certain offenders to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation to educate him/her on the harms of substance abuse in lieu of the office filing formal criminal charges. Offenses considered for this program will include certain first-time, misdemeanor drug possession offenses (a personal use quantity), drug paraphernalia offenses and non-driving related alcohol offenses.
When a law enforcement report is received by the District Attorney’s Office alleging violations of eligible offenses, the District Attorney’s Office will send the offender a letter. The letter will request that the offender complete a drug and alcohol evaluation and provide the District Attorney’s Office proof of the evaluation within 120 days of the date the letter was written. If the offender submits timely proof of the evaluation, the District Attorney’s Office will close the matter and no criminal charges will be filed. If the offender does not submit proof of the evaluation, the District Attorney’s Office may file a criminal case when probable cause is determined that a criminal violation has occurred.
Common offenses eligible for ADEP will include: possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and minor in consumption of alcohol.
This program will not include cases sentenced prior to May 10, 2018.
*Rule 226 - Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
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