Getting Into the Dakota County Diversion Program*
This article is for informational purposes only. If you have questions about the diversion program, contact Dakota County District Court. If you have an open criminal charge and are seeking representation, please call us at (612) 281-8325 for a consultation.
Getting into a diversion program is a big concern for many certain first-time offenders. Most counties have some version of a diversion program whereby defendants who successfully complete the program are awarded the benefit of keeping a clean criminal record. While each county’s diversion program may slightly differ, we’ll discuss the Dakota County Diversion Program as an example.
What is the Dakota County Diversion Program?
The “Dakota County Community Accountability Program for First Time Property Offenders” has four primary goals:
- Create an incentive for first-time low risk property offenders to change their behavior;
- Ensure full and prompt payment of restitution to crime victims;
- Hold offenders accountable to society; and
- Reduce costs associated with the criminal justice system.
How Does the Diversion Program Work?
Defendants accepted into the Dakota County Diversion Program must complete the following forms:
- Affidavit in Support of Request to Continue Criminal Proceedings;
- Community Accountability agreement; and
- Community Work Service form.
The Affidavit in Support of Request to Continue Criminal Proceedings is completed at the time the defendant requests to participate in the program. The Affidavit must be submitted to the County Attorney’s Office to begin the screening process for determining eligibility for the program. If the defendant is eligible for the program, the Community Accountability agreement and Community Work Service form are completed and signed by the defendant.
The Community Accountability agreement outlines the terms that the defendant must follow to successfully complete the program. If the defendant fails to comply with the terms, the defendant will be terminated from the diversion program and a hearing will be scheduled to resume criminal prosecution of the case.
The Community Work Service form notifies the defendant of the name of the community work service staff person from Community Corrections (probation department) who will assist the defendant in establishing a work plan and setting up a work sit. Once a plan has been established, it becomes an essential part of the Community Accountability agreement with which the defendant must comply.
Components of the Dakota County Diversion Program
Restitution: If the victim of the offense incurred a loss, the defendant will be required to pay restitution.
Program Fee: Defendants must pay a monthly fee to participate in the program. The fee is set for a period of twelve (12) months. In lieu of paying the fee, defendants may choose to perform an additional sixty (60) hours of community work service which will be applied toward the program fee.
Community Work Service: The number of hours of community work service is assessed by the level of the defendant’s offense as follows:
- Felony – 40 hours
- Gross Misdemeanor – 30 hours
- Misdemeanor – 25 hours
What Happens if Diversion is Successfully Completed?
If the defendant completes all requirements of the diversion program, the County Attorney’s Office will dismiss the case. If the defendant fails to timely complete any condition of the agreement or it’s determined that the defendant committed a new offense while participating in the program, the County Attorney’s Office will begin prosecution of the new offense. In other words, if the defendant commits a new offense, not only will he or she be prosecuted for the new offense but the old offense for which they are in diversion will also be prosecuted.
How Can I Make Sure I Get Into the Diversion Program?
Not all cases are eligible for diversion. Factors for being accepted include the defendant’s criminal history, the nature of the offense and in theft or property cases, the dollar amount of damage or loss. Oftentimes defendants have clean records but are charged with offenses that either do not qualify for diversion or fall just outside the eligibility requirement for diversion. In these cases, having a skilled defense attorney to challenge the facts and evidence of your case to qualify you for diversion is key.
*Note county diversion programs are subject to change. For current information on the Diversion Program and eligibility, contact Dakota County District Court.