Pretrial diversion, or deferred adjudication, is a system of criminal justice that has a few important components. It usually includes a pretrial intervention program (TIP), which helps a defendant to avoid incarceration on a conviction by working with them to resolve their charges. This is often done in conjunction with a plea bargain deal, or a sentence reduction, and requires a judge’s approval before it takes effect. In some cases, pretrial diversion can also be used to obtain pretrial diversionary services, such as drug testing, community service, probation supervision, and the like.

Deferred Adjudication

Pretrial diversion / deferred adjudication are usually referred to as pretrial diversion / deferred disposition programs, but this can sometimes be confusing. These forms of programs generally go by many different names, but in general they all take the defendant off the traditional channels of criminal prosecution in order to complete a series of requirements that are designed to help them avoid a conviction. This can be done through an agreement between a defendant and his or her legal representatives. The legal representatives work with the prosecutor in making a deal, and then the case is resolved. In some cases, pretrial diversion can be completed without the involvement of a third party, if it is considered a “win-win” situation for the defendant and the court.


In many instances, pretrial diversion/deferred adjudication is the first step toward rehabilitation, after a defendant has been charged with a serious offense. In most cases, once a defendant completes the pretrial diversion program, he or she is no longer eligible for pretrial diversion or deferment, and they can be convicted only if they have continued their criminal behavior after completing the pretrial diversion program.


There are various levels of pretrial diversion programs that can be completed, and each involves the same basic requirements. Most, though not all, states require that a defendant must meet the eligibility requirements, including being 18 years old or older, a United States citizen, and not be a violent or repeat offender. They must also agree to a court-approved diversion plan and attend a diversion program where they will learn about the consequences of their actions. In some cases, the court will allow a defendant to participate in pre-trial diversion, while avoiding a trial, provided he or she agrees to remain free until the trial is complete, or until the charge is dismissed.

Some States Order Pretrial Diversion

Some states may also require that a defendant be ordered to participate in pretrial diversion/deferred adjudication even if he or she pleads guilty in a criminal case. This is sometimes done in cases in which a defendant has been caught with or sold drugs or weapons, which will result in a prison sentence of more than one year. However, not all states use this requirement. Some other states do use it, especially in drug cases. The most common state pretrial diversion/deferred adjudication programs include probation and house arrest. If the judge feels a defendant is a low risk to reoffend, and he or she does not present a significant flight or safety risk, some counties and states will allow him or her to attend a pretrial diversion program and to enter a diversion program while on probation.


The Pretrial diversionary Services Offices (PSOs) that an attorney works with are responsible for contacting law enforcement and other law enforcement agencies, as well as a defense lawyer. This allows them to have a thorough understanding of their case and the facts of the case to help negotiate the best possible outcome. The pretrial diversion office, under the direct supervision of the district attorney, will evaluate the case and work with their client to find a suitable program that is in the best interest of the client and that is in line with the charges against him or her. In some cases, a defendant may be given probation or house arrest, which allows him or her to enter the diversion program with minimal or no jail time and with no criminal record. If the case is not resolved by the end of the trial, the state may be able to dismiss the charges, or dismiss the charge but have the individual serve a part of the jail sentence anyway.