Houston County First Offenders

Court officials in the 20th Judicial Circuit Court made up of Houston and Henry counties are calling a new program a big success.

The Pretrial Diversion Program has been in effect just a couple of months, and the plan is already paying off for victims and defendants.

Whether you call it pretrial diversion or deferred prosecution, the new program is benefitting both victims and defendants. Non-violent and first-time offenders get a chance to clear their criminal records if their victims and investigators agree to go along with the deal. The defendant has to comply with certain sanctions such as paying restitution or undergoing drug rehab. Victims must be repaid immediately.

The program has already collected nearly $50,000 in restitution for victims. Valeska says pre-trial diversion also cuts down on jail over-crowding and clears up court dockets.

Judges are also praising the program.

Law enforcement also benefits from deferred prosecution because defendants must reimburse agencies for the cost of investigating their cases. Anyone who fails to complete the program goes back before the judge just like any other criminal.

District Attorney Doug Valeska says more than 500 defendants have applied for pretrial diversion during the first two months of the program.


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