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  • Matthew W. Peterson

What is Pretrial Diversion in Massachusetts?

Updated: Mar 13

Pre-trial diversion allows some people charged with crimes to escape a criminal prosecution and have the case dismissed, as long as they complete a required program. Although not everyone is eligible, it is critical to find a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer to request pretrial diversion if you are eligible.

Who is Eligible for Pretrial Diversion in Massachusetts?

To be eligible for pretrial diversion in Massachusetts, you must:

  • Never have been convicted of any adult criminal offense in any state (other than minor traffic violations)

  • Have no outstanding warrants anywhere

Generally, if you are charged with a felony or a serious violent offense, you are NOT eligible for pretrial diversion. Minor offenses such as drug possession, DUI, and assaults are generally eligible for pretrial diversion

How Does Massachusetts Pretrial Diversion Work?

If you're eligible for pretrial diversion, your attorney should request it at arraignment. Then, the judge can reset the case for 14 days to evaluate you for pretrial diversion.

It's critical that you hire a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer before your arraignment because, if you're arraigned, you will generally not be eligible for pretrial diversion.

After the 14 day evaluation period, it's up to the judge and the district attorney's office whether to accept you to pretrial diversion. If you are accepted, you must agree to waive your speedy trial rights, and the judge orders you into a program and resets the case for 90 days.

You can be ordered to a wide variety of programs including, but not limited to, medical, educational, vocational, social, substance use disorder treatment and psychological services, corrective and preventive guidance, training, performance of community service work, counseling, provision for residence in a halfway house or other suitable placement, and other rehabilitative services designed to protect the public and benefit the individual provided the court receives a recommendation from a program that you would benefit from participation in said program.

Depending on how you do after those 90 days, the judge could choose to dismiss the case, reset it again, continue the case without a finding, or make the case go back through the criminal process.

If you are accused of violating the program, there will be a hearing in front of the judge, and it will be up to them whether to allow you to remain in the program.

If you think you're eligible for pretrial diversion, you should contact a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact me today, and let's get started on your defense.

My office is located in Boston, Massachusetts, but I handle criminal cases, including larceny, in all Massachusetts courts. Contact me at 617-356-8217.