San Antonio, Texas, August 11, 2016: Bexar County Criminal District Attorney Nico LaHood announces the launch of the county's first felony Pre-Trial Diversion Program. The new program is offered to first-time, non-violent offenders, charged with a certain felony drug offense (under Chapter 481 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act).
Felony PTD is a program for qualifying defendants who demonstrate rehabilitative potential.
“Our new felony Pre-Trial Diversion program is a great opportunity for low-risk, first-time offenders to get the structure and opportunity they need to help get them back on the right path to become a productive citizen,” said District Attorney Nico LaHood.
If accepted, a defendant will pay a program fee, complete community service hours, attend substance abuse treatment and necessary counseling to address the underlying cause of his or her drug usage. Participants will be supervised by the Bexar County Pretrial Services Department (Pretrial Services). Supervision will be a minimum of one year and may be extended up to two years. The defendant can be of any age, as long as it is their first criminal offense of any kind (excluding Class C traffic violations).
A defendant can be disqualified from the program if they have a criminal conviction, deferred adjudication or previously participated in a pretrial diversion program. Additionally, the defendant is disqualified if they used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission - of the offense, - if evidence suggests the person is engaged in the manufacture, distribution or sale of any controlled substance; or the person is behind on court ordered child support.
Participants who successfully complete the program will have their criminal case dismissed. If, however, a participant fails to complete all aspects of the program, the case will be placed back on the trial court’s docket and the defendant will face the full range of punishment for the offense.
The goal of the Felony Pre-Trial Diversion Program is to educate and treat low risk first time offenders, prevent their return to the criminal justice system and provide the opportunity to continue life with a clean slate.
In May 2015, the DA's Office re-designed the Misdemeanor Pre-Trial Diversion Program in the same manner. The program helps to reduce recidivism rates and the backlog of court dockets.