The Dallas Initiative for Diversion and Expedited Rehabilitation and Treatment (DIVERT Court) is a program available for Dallas County residents in efforts to enhance public safety by providing a judicially supervised regimen of treatment and innovative case management to substance abuse offenders with the goal of returning sober, law-abiding citizens to the community and thereby closing the “revolving door” to the criminal justice system. The requirements for admission and completion of the 18-month program are rigorous and the court must believe that the accused will be committed to the terms of rehabilitation in order to be considered and admitted.
Upon successful completion of the 18-month program, the case is dismissed and the arrest can be expunged. In the common law legal system, an expungement proceeding is a type of lawsuit in which a first-time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, making the records unavailable through the state or Federal repositories.
The court is for people facing a first-time state jail or third-degree felony drug charge. Participants, who pay $1,040, must be in need of inpatient and outpatient treatment for a substance abuse problem. If you are between the ages of 18-25 and DO NOT qualify for Felony Divert program because it was deemed that you DO NOT have a drug problem, you may be eligible for THE AIM PROGRAM.
This program is challenging and only suited for persons suffering from drug addiction or severe drug problems. It has proven to be very effective in returning citizens to a productive drug-free condition. If purchased from private rehabilitation agencies, it would cost thousands of dollars and might not be as effective, because they don’t have the advantage of close judicial supervision and possible sanctions to encourage compliance.
The program includes a judge, attorneys, case managers and counselors whose aim is to help people overcome addiction, rather than punish you with a lifetime burden of a felony conviction. It isn’t easy, but it’s an increasingly common alternative form of justice that experts say is a key factor in recent prison population declines here and nationally.
“We’re catching people on the very front end before they ever have a record,” said state District Judge Robert Burns, who has presided over the weekly court sessions since January 2012. It’s a volunteer role in addition to his day job as a Dallas County felony court judge.
Psychologists evaluate candidates for the program to determine their substance abuse or drug addiction and what, if any, psychiatric problems they might have. A treatment plan is catered to their needs and may include six months of inpatient care at the Judge John C. Creuzot Judicial Treatment Center or a shorter stay at another inpatient facility.
The center, which is in Wilmer, is named after the judge who launched DIVERT.
That study found that DIVERT reduced recidivism by 52 percent., and about two-thirds of people who enter the program complete it successfully.
Program Steps for Admission
Your criminal case is handled as follows:
- referred to Dallas County DA by police
- Evaluated by DA and either accepted or rejected
- Accepted cases are referred to the Grand Jury for action
- The Grand Jury either issues an indictment, reduces the charge or refuses it
- The case is assigned to a DA in the felony court
- The DA assigned to the court accepts assignment of the case and it becomes active.
- Once active, your attorney requests that you be considered for the divert program.
Your Divert Case is handled as follows:
- Your attorney requests that you be evaluated by the Divert Court
- The Divert Coordinator then submits a request for criminal history which takes up to 15 days.
- Criminal History is presented to the Divert program for review and. if clean, you may proceed to the next step in the request for admission
- The client will then receive an appointment for court observation – always on Tuesday nights @ 6 pm for approximately 2 hours
Evaluation to determine the nature and extent of your drug problem
- After the court observation appointment, the accused will be referred to Dr. Gomez, Psychologist for assessment.
- If Dr. Gomez finds you have a sufficiently severe drug problem and assessment guidelines are met – (you really want to get into the program, have a serious drug problem), you are scheduled for another court appointment (Tues eve @ 6 pm)
- Your case will be set for Judge to consider and review all conditions of the program to be sure that you are making a sincere, well-considered decision to enter the program and, if so, your contract is signed with your also Attorney present.
- If you agree to participate and are accepted, then…
- A mandatory 18-24 month program must be completed – the program steps are assigned by the court and will be included in the contract.
- You will go to jail for 2-6 weeks awaiting admission to the inpatient treatment at the Wilmer rehab facility. The Wilford program lasts 6 months.
- Failure to comply with conditions of the contract can result in jail time, other sanctions or expulsion from the program.
- After release from Wilmer, you will have continuing outpatient treatment for the remaining period.
- You will report to Drug Court monthly for consideration of your progress, possible sanctions or compliments on your progress.
- Successful completion of the program is celebrated in court by all involved.
If you drug issue is not severe enough to qualify you for the program, then..
- You are not eligible for the program
- If you meet the criteria, you may then apply for Young Citizen Divert (AIM)
The program is demanding and should not be considered unless
- You accept responsibility for your drug abuse
- You are sincerely committed to changing your relationship with drugs from your unhealthy history