What Is Pre-Trial Diversion in Tennessee?

Pre-Trial Diversion In today’s electronic age, criminal background checks are routinely done by prospective employers, landlords, schools, and even government assistance programs. As a result, the negative consequences of a criminal conviction can be far-reaching and long-lasting. If you have recently been charged with a criminal offense it is in your best interest to find out if you qualify for pre-trial diversion in Tennessee because if you do you may be able to avoid the damaging fall out from a conviction. Only an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney can evaluate the specific facts and circumstances of your case and tell you with certainty that you qualify for pre-trial diversion; however, it may be helpful in the meantime to gain a better understanding of what pre-trial diversion is and who typically qualifies.

As a general rule, a defendant in a criminal prosecution must follow one of two paths – plead not-guilty and proceed to trial or agree to plead guilty and enter into a plea agreement with the State of Tennessee. For those who qualify though, pre-trial diversion offers a third choice.

Pre-trial diversion is an agreement between the defendant and the State of Tennessee through the District Attorney. As the name implies, if a defendant is eligible for pre-trial diversion, and wishes to accept the option, the agreement is typically reached outside of the courtroom well before the case is scheduled to go to trial. Unlike its counterpart “judicial diversion,” pre-trial diversion does not require a defendant to plead guilty. Instead, when a defendant enters into a pre-trial diversion program it effectively brings the prosecution of the case to a halt. The case remains suspended for the length of time agreed upon in the pre-trial diversion agreement. During that time, the defendant is required to successfully fulfill the terms of the pre-trial diversion agreement. Those terms usually include things such as attending alcohol/drug rehabilitation or classes, submitting to a mental health evaluation and treatment, attending anger management, and/or completing community work service. Pre-trial diversion is sort of like being on probation except without ever being convicted of a crime.

The benefit to entering into a pre-trial diversion agreement is that if a defendant successfully completes all of the terms of the agreement – and manages to remain out of trouble – the original charges against him/her are dismissed by the State of Tennessee.

To be eligible for pre-trial diversion a defendant cannot have received diversion in the past. In addition, the defendant cannot have any prior felony convictions nor misdemeanor conviction that required the defendant to serve a jail sentence. Finally, the instance offense cannot be a felony.

If you believe your criminal conviction qualifies for expungement it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.


Dinah Michael