About Pleas: What is judicial diversion?
The bottom line: Judicial diversion is a program in Tennessee that allows eligible defendants to avoid a criminal conviction and have their charges dismissed and expunged upon successful completion of probation.
Judicial diversion, sometimes called “40-35 diversion,” is a second chance for first-time offenders to avoid a criminal conviction, if the district attorney agrees to make it part of a plea agreement.
To be eligible for judicial diversion in Tennessee, you must meet certain criteria: you must not have been previously sentenced to jail/prison time for a felony or for an A misdemeanor; you must not have participated in judicial diversion or pre-trial diversion in the past; you must be charged with a qualifying offense (judicial diversion is not available for most violent crimes or for DUI); and you must apply for and receive a certificate of eligibility from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (the application costs $100.00).
To take advantage of judicial diversion, you must plead guilty to a crime, but the judge does not enter judgment at that time. Instead, the judge waits to enter judgment until you have had an opportunity to complete probation.
During this probationary period, you will be required to check in regularly with your probation officer, pass random drug tests, engage in lawful behavior (meaning, no new arrests), and comply with all conditions of your probation. Common conditions include community service, classes, and drug and alcohol treatment programs.
If you successfully complete probation, the charges against you will be dismissed and the charge(s) can then be expunged from your record.
If you do not complete your probation requirements, your guilty plea may become final and you may be required to serve your original sentence in jail.
For a printable resource to help you understand judicial diversion, please see my guide: Understanding Judicial Diversion.