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Understanding Diversion Programs

Enforcement Officer

Being charged with a crime does not mean that you will be convicted of a crime. While most defendants would prefer to have their charges simply dismissed outright, that is not a common outcome. Instead, many defendants are offered the chance at a Diversion Program which, if completed successfully, would result in dismissal of the charges.

In general, Diversion Programs require participants to pay some fee or fine and complete Community Service hours in order to earn their Completion Certificate. The type of Diversion Program a defendant is offered will depend on the charge, the court, and the defendant’s own history: a defendant can only be entered into any individual Diversion Program one time. So, while they are a good option for accidents and once-in-a-lifetime events, they should not be considered “get-out-of-jail-free-cards.”

Below are brief summaries of the five diversion options in Horry County:

Pretrial Intervention (PTI)

The PTI program is perhaps the most commonly used diversion option in Horry County. Most misdemeanors and some felony charges are eligible for PTI, though it’s important to note that an individual can only enter the PTI program once – whether the program is completed or not.

PTI requires the defendant, at minimum, to attend an orientation and report to a case manager, complete 60 community service hours, and pass drugs tests in order to complete the program. The defendant will undergo an assessment to identify any other requirements at the beginning of the program. Successful completion of the program will result in the charges being dismissed.

Alcohol Education Program (AEP)

AEP is a program designed for alcohol-related charges, such as Open Container or Public Disorderly Conduct, with the purpose being to encourage defendants to take responsibility for their choices and actions.

Like PTI, defendants are only eligible to enter AEP once. The major requirements for the AEP are completion of 20 community service hours, completion of an alcohol education class, and completion for a defensive driving course. Successful completion of the program will result in the charges being dismissed.

Conditional Discharge (CD)

A Conditional Discharge is sort of a first-time conviction with a caveat. The defendant who wishes to pursue a Conditional Discharge must first plea to the charge of Simple Possession of Marijuana or Public Disorderly Conduct. Their sentence is then withheld pending the completion of the requirements of the Conditional Discharge. If the defendant fails to complete those requirements within the court’s time-frame, or if the defendant is re-arrested for any reason before completion of the Conditional Discharge, then they will be sentenced and will have a conviction on their record.

To complete a Conditional Discharge, defendants are required to complete a number of community service hours as determined by the judge. Once completed, the defendant can then apply to have the charges expunged from his/her record.

Traffic Education Program (TEP)

TEP is designed for defendants charged with low-point traffic violations. Like the other programs, a defendant is only eligible for TEP once, but TEP is only for defendants whose driving record is otherwise pretty clean.

Completion of TEP means paying the required fee, completing community service hours, and taking a 4-hour life skills education course. Once the program is completed, the defendant can apply to have the charges expunged from his/her record.

Drug Court

Drug Court is an option for defendants with non-violent offenses – it is most often used for drug offenses. Drug Court is, essentially, a rehabilitation program which requires long-term participation from the defendant.

Participants in Drug Court are required to make regular payments to the program, attend weekly sessions, submit to random drug screenings, and remain arrest-free for the duration of the program. Each level of the program will have other requirements. For a more detailed look, check out this post.   

It’s important to remember that these Diversion Programs have limited eligibility and they may not always be the best option. It’s always a good idea to consult an attorney before making the decision to enter a Diversion Program.

If you or a loved on have been charged with a crime the Complete Legal Defense Team can help.

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Complete Legal Defense Team

We defend clients who have been accused of felonies, misdemeanors, and DUI. Our goal at the Complete Legal Defense Team is to examine the facts and circumstances completely and help our clients.

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