Interviewer: How hard is it to get diversion offers? What kind of qualifications do you need to get one?
Mike: Some courts or some jurisdictions do not offer diversion at all and others are more willing to. They’re never guaranteed, and you really need a qualified criminal defense lawyer to try to get you a diversion offer.
In terms of eligibility, usually almost every court that is willing to offer diversion, the main requirement is that you have not had a diversion plea offer in the past. So, if you’ve been given diversion before in the same court, it’s very unlikely to get it a second time, but it’s not impossible. My office has gotten diversion for people a second time, but that usually takes a lot of hard work and negotiations with prosecutors to get that plea offer again.
Interviewer: For the most part it’s a once in a lifetime thing.
Mike: Usually it’s once, you get it one time, you might get it one time per court, but if another court knows you had diversion before then sometimes they won’t offer it again.
Interviewer: You said it depends on the court, but are there some courts tend to offer it more than others and what are the names of the courts that do?
Mike: Are you asking which courts offer them more than others?
Interviewer: Yes. Which courts are more likely to offer diversion then others and are there are a few courts that you can name?
Mike: You’re more likely to get diversion in Tempe City Court for alcohol cases. In Scottsdale you have a decent chance of getting diversion on domestic violence cases. Chandler does diversion on certain cases. They do them on shoplifting. They do them on domestic violence. They do them on a number of cases. Phoenix sometimes do diversion on some things, but they won’t do diversion on others. It really, you know, it really does vary across the board. Some courts don’t offer diversion at all and sometimes all it takes is a little hard work by an experienced criminal defense lawyer to basically create a diversion.
There’s been situations where prosecutors are not offering diversions, but once I was able to they had a weak case, and work on case more, one alternative plea offer that we were able to work out is where you kind of create a diversion that didn’t exist in the first place where you say, “Hey, how about you dismiss it, you dismiss this if my client goes and does these classes and this community service,” and, so, sometimes you really have to think out of the box when your defending someone’s case.
Interviewer: I just realized why your chosen attorney really needs to know the system, because is sounds like there’s no fixed set of behaviors or rules; they just need to know the personality of each court, have experience in them and then be creative or resourceful to come up with this when it’s not even available.
Mike: Exactly. And that’s where experience is important and also being a former prosecutor is important. If you don’t know the system and how it works, you’ll never even know to ask.
Interviewer: That makes sense. So you said earlier that there’s no chance of any type of diversion for DUI in Maricopa County?
Mike: Getting a diversion on DUIs is very, very rare. If anything you’re more likely to get a full dismissal if the DUI is weak, if the state has a weak case or to try to get the plea offer reduced down to a lower offense is more likely. Actual diversion on DUIs really usually doesn’t happen, but it is possible.