First Time Felony Diversion Court

The City Bar has proposed legislation to create a diversion court for individuals facing their first felony conviction who are not suffering from substance use disorder and therefore would not qualify for the current drug diversion court. Judges, prosecutors, and defense counsel have recognized the need for first-time felony diversion, with informal versions of such programs based exclusively on prosecutorial consent being implemented across the state. However, only a few individuals benefit as existing programs are generally piecemeal and based upon prosecutorial consent. Through our proposed diversion court, qualifying individuals would receive individualized programming, and, upon successful completion, would have their case dismissed. The program would allow individuals charged with a felony who have not previously been convicted of a felony to receive individualized services. The goal of the program would be to address the root causes of the individual’s criminal activity by providing services such as education, job training and placement, therapy, and housing. If the individual completes the program, their case would be dismissed and sealed. By lowering recidivism rates and preventing the lifelong collateral consequences that follow a felony conviction, this program would be beneficial for individuals, as well as their families and communities. *City Bar Proposal*