Pretrial Diversion Program Offered for Marijuana Possession in Tarrant County
The Tarrant County Texas District Attorney's Office has offered a pretrial diversion program for first offenders since 1973. The program is designed to provide an opportunity for qualifying and deserving youthful first offenders that have been arrested in the Fort Worth/Tarrant County area a chance to avoid having a conviction on the record and having the case dismissed. However not until recently was this program available for people charged with possession of marijuana.
Who is eligible?
With recent changes in social and political tides concerning marijuana the District Attorney's Office has decided to allow those charged with small amounts of marijuana to participate in the program. This program is not available to anyone who was over the age of 21 years at the time the offense was committed. And it is only available to true first offenders. A prior conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia in a Municipal Court can result in an applicant's exclusion from the program.
And participation in the program is by no means an entitlement. A lengthy application is required which includes reference letters from responsible members of the community acknowledging they are aware the applicant has been arrested. In the process involves an extensive background investigation and an interview. To participate in this program among other things the applicant must:
- The applicant must be represented by an attorney.
- The applicant must be between the ages of 17 and 21.
- The applicant cannot be a member of any gang or involved in any organized crime.
- The case must be for only one offense and not multiple offenses.
- The applicant must accept responsibility for the offense.
- The applicant cannot have any juvenile arrest record except for status offenses such as truancy or runaway.
- In the offense cannot involve injuries to anyone or placing anyone in danger of receiving any injury.
Certain offenses are excluded from the pretrial diversion program:
- Sexual assault
- Child abuse.
- Family violence.
- Drug-related offenses other than possession of marijuana.
- Weapons offenses.
- Prostitution/public lewdness.
- Burglary of a habitation.
- Deadly conduct.
- Assault involving injury.
- Theft by check.
- Attempts to commit any of the above.
How To Be Accepted Into The Program
Those interested in participating are encouraged to retain an attorney and start the application process right away.
- The application should really be completed and returned within two weeks of receipt.
- Every blank on the application must be filled in with some kind of response, even if it's "N/A" or you be deemed not to have answered that question.
- There is a $100 participation fee. $25 is due in the application is submitted and an additional $75 is due when the applicant appears for their interview.
The District Attorney's Office has also suggested other tips for doing well in the interview. Arrived early. Those arriving late will be usually be excluded from the program. Dress professionally. Regardless of whether or not you are still under 18 you must bring a parent or responsible adult. Be honest. Any detected dishonesty by the interviewers will result in instant rejection to the program.
If admitted into the pretrial diversion program once successfully completed the applicant will be eligible to have their arrest record expunged.