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Felony Diversion Program in Washington State

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When you are charged with a felony offense in Washington, the court will assign certain penalties based on several factors, such as the severity of the charge, your criminal history, and the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Common penalties in felony cases include prison time, fines, and community supervision. In some cases, however, you may be eligible for a felony diversion program.

What Is a Diversion Program?

A diversion program is an alternative sentencing condition that is assigned in lieu of other criminal penalties, such as jail time. In many cases, first-time offenders are eligible for a felony diversion program in Washington state. Different court systems establish their own requirements for diversion programs, so you will need to consult with an attorney to determine whether or not you are eligible.

Who Qualifies to Participate in the Felony Diversion Program?

When deciding whether to recommend a diversion program, the prosecutor assigned to your case will consider many factors. He or she will look at the number of previous offenses on your record, the nature and violence involved in your case, and whether you owe any restitution. In most cases, violent crimes and crimes involving children are not eligible for diversion. If you have multiple crimes on your record or have entered a diversion program before, you are likely ineligible.

To be accepted into the program and remain in good standing, you will generally need to meet the following conditions.

  • You will not violate any laws.
  • You will report to a counselor at certain times.
  • You will need to remain at your current residence and notify your counselor of any changes.
  • You will need to pay all of your fees, court costs, and restitution.
  • You will need to complete certain conditions, such as the completion of a treatment program, community service, or other classes and evaluations.
  • You will need to comply with any no-contact orders or agreements assigned by the court.
  • You cannot possess a weapon or a firearm.

Violations and Consequences for Violating the Program

Although a diversion requirement does involve stringent requirements, it is a preferable alternative to prosecution for many Washington residents. A Class C felony conviction, the lowest level felony available in Washington, is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. A Class B felony charge can result in up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, while a Class A felony can result in fines up to $50,000 and life in prison.

In these situations, it is important to follow all conditions of the diversion program carefully. If you fail to comply with the requirements of a felony diversion program, you could face prosecution for your charges and be terminated from the program. Examples of violations may include the following.

  • Failure to attend your classes
  • Committing new crimes while under diversion
  • Failure to complete evaluation or treatment requirements
  • Moving without telling your diversionary counselor
  • Failure to pay fees, fines, and restitution

If you are facing felony charges in Washington state, it is important that you remain calm and speak to a Tacoma felony defense attorney as soon as you can after your arrest. A lawyer can help you identify whether or not you qualify for a felony diversion program and advocate for your best interests during each stage of your case. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your optimal course of action.

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