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Harris County Announces New Diversion Programs

This week, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson has announced the establishment of new pretrial diversion programs. As reported by Chron, the new programs will focus on those suspected of shoplifting, drug possession, and other non-violent charges.

Last May, the MacArthur Foundation bestowed $150,000 to Harris County to conduct new research on how to improve its criminal justice system. The funding was provided after the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council worked with Anderson to apply for the grant. Harris County—along with other U.S. jurisdictions—will receive additional funding to put their plans in effect later this year.

The pretrial diversion programs will allow those facing certain non-violent charges to forgo incarceration and instead submit to other penalties or treatment. They will especially focus on those who continue to cycle through local jails without addressing related causes to their recidivism (like substance addiction).

A New Outlook on Certain Offenses

While this is one of the first efforts to reevaluate the sentencing of non-violent crimes in Harris County, national perspective on these kinds of charges may be beginning to shift. In California, voters passed Proposition 47 in 2014, which re-classified many non-violent crimes as misdemeanors in an effort to reduce the burden on local jails and fund community programs.

It is unclear when precisely the new pretrial diversion programs will be ready—but it is certain that skilled defense representation will be needed to enroll in them. While an accused's enrollment in a diversion program will be left up the court, their eligibility will have to be adequately petitioned for by capable counsel.

If you have been charged with a crime and are interested in exploring your defense options with an accomplished and trusted Houston criminal defense lawyer, then we invite you to contact Guerra & Farah, PLLC today. Our award-winning legal team has helped countless clients avoid maximum penalty and receive every consideration they deserve before the law.

Want to learn more about how our firm can assist you? Contact us today to request a free case evaluation.